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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3).

Sure, children are difficult to handle at times and certainly try our patience, but when you think about it, there's nothing so priceless as our little ones. They're funny, fascinating, and fun-loving. They're enthusiastic, eager, and energetic. You might be asking, "Does that mean I have to be amusing and hyperactive to please God?" Of course not, but there are some characteristics of children that we must have if we want to live with God in heaven.

Jesus' disciples had a problem with wanting to be the greatest in the kingdom. It seems as if they had a difficult time understanding Jesus' explanation that His kingdom was not like the one they expected. His was to be built on the foundation of meekness, servanthood, and humility, rather than on man's power, pride, and might. In order to make His point He set a little child in the midst of the disciples on one occasion and told them they needed to become like this little child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. No doubt they were wondering, "What does He mean? Does He want us to be childish?" He continued by saying, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:4). Jesus' point: If we want to please God, we must be child-like in humility. Children haven't learned yet to think they are better than others. Their happiness and wellbeing don't depend on others submitting to them and honoring them. They're not proud and arrogant, but Christ-like in their humility. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of  himself  more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Rm. 12:3). Let's be childish ... in humility.

It's funny to watch children playing, because it's inevitable that they're going to get into a fuss. They'll argue over who gets to play with what, or who gets to sit in which chair. They might even get mad and scream at each other and go and tell mom. But do you know what they're doing five minutes later? PLAYING! Jesus said, "For if ye forgive  men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive  not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mt. 6:14-15). That's something we all can learn from children: forgive and forget. Wouldn't the church be more like God would have it to be if we all learned to forgive the sin of others? Not holding it against them. Not bringing it up five years down the road. But forgetting it. Think about how much better our marriages would be if we forgave our spouses of their mistakes! If we didn't bring them up six months after the fact. If we acted as if they never even happened. How many children have you seen that wouldn't play with one another, saying, "Don't you remember six years ago when we were three and you took my toy!"? Let's be childish! Forgive and forget.  No doubt you've seen little kids frightened because of a loud clap of thunder or the growling of a dog. Who is it that they look for when scared? Whom do they trust more than anyone in the whole world? Mommy and daddy. No one will do except for mommy when it's stormy outside. No place feels as safe as daddy's arms when you've had a bad dream. You don't trust anyone quite like mom or dad. Isn't that a wonderful trait? Children trust their parents and are dependent upon them like no one else in the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had that same element of trust in and dependence upon our heavenly Father? "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give  him a stone" Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye  then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him 9" (Mt. 7:911). All Christian parents care even more about their children than they do about themselves. They want only the best for their kids. In fact, they'll even give up wearing prettier clothes or driving nicer cars so that their children can have attractive clothes and a decent car. They'll sacrifice long hours at work to provide those things that are necessary for their kids. But did you ever think about the fact that we have a Father that cares infinitely more about us than we do our own children? He watched His Son die on the cross so He could adopt us (Eph. 1:5). He looked on as they mocked Jesus so that He could give us better things--peace, mercy, and grace. He sacrificed His Son to give us a good home--a heavenly home. Because He is our Father, we can turn to Him when the storm is raging. His arms are the best place to be when we get scared in the dark. No one will do quite like Him when we're confused and bewildered. We're dependent upon Him like no one else in this world--there's no one quite like our Father. Let's be childish ... in our dependency upon our Father.

"Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12)

by Chuck Webster