Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 29

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I'm continuing to enjoy the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study from Good Morning Girls and will be sad when the study ends this Friday.  However, they are offering a study with an Easter emphasis which will be starting, I think, at the end of March.  In the meantime, I want to share a few more of my studies from the "Intentionally Focused" readings.  Week 6 was about our children.  Now I know that not everyone has children, and some have children who are grown and gone.  I hadn't really planned on sharing any of the study from week 6 because for me it was quite introspective and personal.  But the particular verses from day 29 could apply to any of us and our interactions with any children whose lives we touch.  The verses we were to SOAP were Matthew 18:5-6.  So here goes:

S [Scripture]= "And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. 
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea."
  (Matthew 18:5-6)

O [Observation]= In this section [verses 1 through 6] of Matthew 18, Jesus is teaching that childlike faith is a necessity for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven.  His disciples had come to Him asking who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  In response, Jesus called a child to Him, set him in the midst of the disciples, and challenged them with the importance of childlike faith and humility.  No one will enter the kingdom of heaven without it. 

In verse 5, Jesus went even further, explaining that when children are received in His name, it's like receiving Him.  There are many ministering to children in His name; it is as if they ministered to Jesus Himself.  What a privilege!  But verse 6 adds a very important and sobering detail.  If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, he is a marked man.  It would be better for him to have died.  When you think of how many horror stories we've heart of "missionaries" or "priests" who've abused children while representing the name of Christ ... well, this passage shows us exactly what God thinks about that.  Most sobering.

A [Application]= Over the years, I've had the opportunity of ministering to perhaps hundreds of children, through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday Night Bible Club, and while working at a Christian school, not to mention through the written word in devotional books and a novel for young people.  How very exciting and encouraging for anyone who ministers to children that this is like ministering to Christ Himself!

But here's the sobering question for me.  Have I ever caused any of them to stumble?  Certainly not because of any abuse, but what about something as simple as a bad attitude on my part, or an unthinking idle word that I might have spoken?  I pray that this hasn't been the case, and will certainly be more aware of it in the future.  I hadn't ever really thought of it in this light before.

P [Prayer]= "Lord, I thank You so much for Your Word and its effectual working in our hearts and lives.  I thank You for the opportunity to minister to children, not only in the home but in many other venues over the years.  What a privilege it has been to be involved in their lives!
"Yet, Lord, as I consider the sobering words in Matthew 18:6, I pray that I have not ever caused any of them to stumble in any way.  Certainly that would never have been my intent, but I realize now that even attitudes or tones of voice could have contributed to that happening.  Now that I'm aware of this, Lord, I pray that You will help me to set a consistent example for all the children whose lives I touch.  I thank You for all You will do.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

So that was my study for Day 29.  A bit heavy, perhaps, but that's how it spoke to me.  Something to consider, for sure.

My next "Intentionally Focused" posts will be on ministry, I think -- although I may do just one more concerning children.  We will see!

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