“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Matthew 18:1 NKJV
I can just imagine what must have gone through Jesus’s mind at this time. It seems the disciples missed the whole point! This is not a competition. We can all be close to God and that is what is “great” – not greatest in the way man thinks of greatness.
Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is from the book of Matthew, chapter 18 (embedded below the image below for your convenience). It begins with Jesus talking about children, then warning NOT to turn them away from God (and maybe an implication that they are children). Then the parable of the lost sheep – so from being offended and chased from the flock to wandering off from the flock in a clean swoop. Then it is rounded by the one who is shunned because he has sinned against a brother and full circle with unforgiveness.
If yesterday we talked about getting into the secret place with God and having that relationship – today we read about having right relationships with other. How can you understand a right relationship with God if you do not understand right relationships with others?
These lessons are pretty clear as you read the scriptures. So let us start with the beginning and study just the opening of this chapter.
Man (or woman) and competition. We are competitive. James and John were competitive and often it seemed Peter provoked them (although it did not take much to get the sons of thunder to start thundering). I can imagine how this whole conversation started. I do wonder who drew the short straw to be the one who went to Jesus and asked.
What is not said here, but is played out throughout the Bible is a warning against this competitive nature. It is usually the one impulsively acting out of competition who sins and exiled. Starting with the brothers Cain and Able. The competitive nature of Cain caused jealousy and then hatred towards his brother, leading to murder and God kicking Cain out.
And Jacob and Esau – Jacob tricked his brother and was exiled for years. He had to come back with a great drama of humility and struggle with an angel to be restored to his brother.
And many modern church splits… Yes, when left unchecked this divides. We cannot be jealous of others gifting’s and ministries. We cannot be jealous of other’s blessings. We are separate parts of a body as Paul later says – so why would a hand be jealous of the heart – they do two different things. Yet – it happens and people perceive conflicts and behaviors… oh this is why we round the chapter up with how to seek restoration! This is a beautifully composed chapter!
Jesus says the answer is to be like little children. Sadly, children today are being indoctrinated with evil and do not have the innocence and purity. The wonderment and love towards one another. The blind trust in adults where Jesus could just grab a random child and say to his disciples to be like this child and the child did not scream, cry and yell out that some stranger touched him.
There is an attack on our understanding by the enemy. Therefore there is an attack on our children and it started long before any of us were born. AS soon as Jesus said to be like a child, the enemy wanted to change the nature of a child so we would misunderstand the scripture and miss the point of what Jesus is saying here. Well, not today satan! We are unpacking it.
I was a child who was abused by adults. At first I would only gravitate toward men as a safe place (my mother was an alcoholic, who already had a young child and she did not want me – to make things worse, I am “special needs” having ADHD and Autism). Then I was abused by men. I slowly pulled away from everyone. A child who is hurt, untrusting and isolated – is this what Jesus meant? Obviously NOT!
“Adonai, my heart isn’t proud; I don’t set my sight too high, I don’t take part in great affairs or in wonders far beyond me. No, I keep myself calm and quiet, like a little child on its mother’s lap — I keep myself like a little child.” Psalm 131:1-2 CJB
So I come across verses like I have to be like a child or this one in Psalms about climbing onto mother’s lap – or even onto Abba Father’s lap and from my broken perspective – how do I overcome and understand how I need to be? Then how do I, translate this understanding for you – who may also e coming from a place of brokenness and pain.
“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:4-5
Thankfully Jesus gives us some explanation: humility and receiving one another as if the other was Jesus Himself!
Humility – well if you have been reading this blog for a while you know what I am going to say! The only way up to heaven is down on your face in humility. REPENT AND BE SAVED! Repentance, fasting, staying lowly – THIS IS KEY!!! I have already shared a multitude of verses on this subject and here is just another. Repentance is a daily activity! Humility is learned and practiced – it is not natural.
We must spend time in the secret place to get humility right – to become like little children. Like we used to play secret fort, play secret place with God.
“The secret [of the wise counsel] of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning.” Psalm 25:14 Amp
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
MEMORY WORK: This month we have another great verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! These memory verses were selected, last year for this year. As many of you tell me of the great attacks on your lives – the timing is perfect! But of course it is, it is God!
NKJV – “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”
NAS – “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated by you; they will go out against you one way and will flee at your presence seven ways.”
ESV – “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”
AMP – “The LORD will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way, but flee before you seven ways.”
NIV – “The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.”
Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!
BIBLE READING: Matthew 18 NKJV
Who Is the Greatest?
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Jesus Warns of Offenses
6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of [a]offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into [b]hell fire.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For[c] the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Dealing with a Sinning Brother
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again[d] I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down [e]at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you [f]all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother [g]his trespasses.”