Children’s Devotion 10/8/17
I once knew a little girl who was very pretty. Her skin was soft and bright. Her smile was big and light. And her eyes twinkled like the stars. She reminded me of a cute little china doll. Everyone loved her.
One day I went to her house to visit. Her mom and dad introduced me to everyone in the house except her. It was one time her parents forgot. The little girl tugged on her mother’s skirt, looked up to her face, and said in a wee little voice, “What about me, Momma.” It was as if she were saying, “I may be little, but I’m part of this family. I’m important too!”
Yes, she was important and precious to her family. And they didn’t mean to overlook her because they loved her. But she is even more important to Jesus. He died on the cross for her, as well as for you and me and everyone, to take away our sin and bring us to Himself in heaven.
Sometimes we may have strange feelings and think that we are not precious to the Lord, to our family, or to anyone. The devil tries to make us think that. But it’s a lie. We may be tempted to feel like that when things don’t go right for us. Then we may feel like that little girl and want to say, “What about me Lord, do you really love me?”
One day, Jesus went into a house in Capernaum with His disciples. Some mothers came with their little children because they wanted them to see Jesus, but the disciples told them to go away and not bother Jesus. When Jesus saw it, He told His disciples to stop. Then He opened His arms to the children and said, “Come to me, for my house is made up of little ones like you who trust in me.” Jesus loved them as their Savior. And He loves you as your Savior, too.
Sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost October 8, 2017
Text: Mark 10:2-16 3 Year Revised Series B 17:2033
Theme: Lord, Soften My Heart to Love Like You Love.
What causes a husband and wife to get divorced? What keeps parents from bringing their little children to the Lord Jesus in baptism? What makes a home a battle ground between adults and children? (And I might sadly add because of events last week, what causes a man to kill and injure hundreds of people.) “It’s the heart,” Jesus said. The human heart that turns from God and His will.
If you speak badly about your spouse, where does that come from? If you dishonor your parents, where does that come from? If you abuse the family, where does that come from? It comes from the heart. You may speak bad words from your mouth, you may do bad things with your hands, but in the end it comes from the heart that opposes God. The eye, the mouth, or the hand might be the instrument through which evil is carried out, but the source of the problem is the heart.
Jesus said in one of our lessons a few weeks ago (Mk.7:20), “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside.” The heart affects what we do. If it’s led by God, it does things God’s way. If it’s led by man’s own desires, it does things against God and people.
Take for example marriage. God’s design for marriage is under attack. It was true in Jesus’ day, too. Sinful minds and selfish hearts try their best to sidestep God’s will for marriage. What did Jesus say about this in our text? He said, “It was because your hearts were hard.”
We each need to ask ourselves a question: “Where is my heart?” Is the sinful heart interfering in any relationships? Beware, the wayward heart causes so much pain. For that reason Christians should learn to pray: Lord, Soften My Heart to Love Like You Love…
I….then my marriage and home will be safe.
Many aren’t safe anymore. And it’s because somewhere along the
line people have hardened their hearts towards God’s will and ways.
Go back to the very beginning. After God was finished creating, He put Adam into the Garden of Eden to take care of everything He had made. But something wasn’t quite right. Everything God had made was perfect. But God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” So He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took a rib from his side, and “built” a woman for Adam. He then gave the woman to Adam as his wife. And the first godly wedding took place in the Garden of Eden. It was to be a pattern for all to follow. It was the result of God’s love and desire to give good and perfect gifts to us.
But where the devil sees God’s good gifts blessing us, you can be sure that he will interfere and try to destroy them. You see that happening already in the home right after the Fall into Sin.
When God came to Adam asking what he had done and calling him to repentance, Adam immediately pointed his finger at Eve and blamed her. Instead of admitting his own sin, accusation rose from his devious heart. Before the Fall that perfect heart made a life-long promise to Eve to love her and join himself together with her as one. But after the Fall the promise to love her more than himself was replaced with selfishness and self-concern. The hardening heart failed to love.
Such a heart is destructive, making the marriage and the home unsafe. Satan rants and raves, tests and tempts us, but it’s the heart within us that governs what we do. The devil can’t control your heart unless you harden it towards God and let Satan take over.
That’s the sad result for which God allowed divorce in Moses’ day. Yes, God allowed it in society, but it was not according to His will or design. Why? Jesus said, “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.” Hard hearts did it.
Wood is hard; rock is harder. You can’t penetrate a rock. You can break it in two but even then you can’t penetrate it. Break a rock apart, put it in water, and what have you changed? Other than being in two pieces, you haven’t penetrated it. It hasn’t soaked up the water any. It remains hard and unreceptive.
God help us if our hearts turn hard as rock, for if we harden them to His gracious and good intent, God’s blessing can’t enter. Then our marriages and homes will not be safe and the purity of God’s intent to join husband and wife together will be defiled by the sinful and selfish ways of the very ones He wishes to bless. How sad is that!
So we Christians should pray, “Lord, soften my heart to love like You love – unconditionally and faithfully. You did not divorce yourself from me when I departed from You in sin, but in love You sent Your Son to die for sin and to rise to give me a new life. So help me to love and forgive. Divorce is not the answer. You may allow it in order to keep law and order in the land, but that doesn’t make it pleasing in Your sight. If my heart should sin, open my eyes to see and repent. Forgive for Jesus’ sake, and help me to “be kind and compassionate to others, tender-hearted and forgiving just as in Christ You forgave me” (Eph.4:32). Then, led by You my marriage and home will be safe…
II. …and I will live like Your child.”
For the third Sunday in a row Jesus has pointed our attention to little children and living like little children. The first time He spoke to His disciples after He caught them arguing among themselves who was the greatest. He said, “Whoever wants to be first, will be last…. Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me…and the One who sent me.” Then He warned, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” Now, as He watched His disciples coldly turn away mothers who were bringing their children to see Him, He commanded, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Now there’s a switch. Sometimes adults tell children to grow up. Here Jesus tells adults to grow down and be like little children.
Children like to pretend that they are grown-ups. A girl puts on her mother’s dress and carries her purse. A boy puts on his father’s coat or walks around in his father’s boots that are too big for him. Both are pretending to be like their parents, as though they have grown up. Why do they do that? Because they want to be adults and do things adults do.
Jesus tells adults to do a similar thing, but in reverse. But this isn’t pretend time; this isn’t make-believe. This is for real. He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” This has to do with heaven and the way children and adults approach it.
One of the big differences between adults and children can be seen in the way that things come to them. Adults earn the things they get. They work for their money and then buy food and everything else that they need. For the most part, whatever they get they’ve had a hand in getting it. And that’s the way they think. If a friend gives them a gift, how often don’t adults think that they have to give something back?
Children don’t think that way. They are used to receiving because they are dependent, totally dependent on others for everything. They are used to having someone give them food, clothing, a place to live, and everything else that they have. A child doesn’t try to earn the gift.
A child receives the gift and hopefully says thanks. It doesn’t even consider, “Do I merit this?”
With such a dependent and trusting faith, God help each Christian to pray, “Lord, help me learn to live like a little child before You. The hard-heart, the proud heart, the self-righteous heart won’t do. Lord, I don’t merit any blessing from Your hand. But in Your faithful love You promise and give Your blessings to me. You freely offer me forgiveness, life, and salvation for Your Son’s sake. I don’t earn such precious gifts. Indeed, I couldn’t earn them because of my sin and human weakness. But in love You give them and I thankfully receive them, trusting Your words and promises. As a loving father freely gives to his children, so You have freely given Your blessings to me in Christ. Like a little child I now come to You, relying on Your redeeming love.
Send Your Spirit to soften my heart, to love like You love. Then my marriage and home will be safe, and I shall walk in Your ways as Your dear child until you receive me into Your arms above. For Jesus’ sake I pray. Amen.”