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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunset on Chesapeake Bay
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"When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'" (Mark 10:14). "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).
Early this week we attended a retreat in Maryland. Our speakers were Doug and Charlotte Sider from Canada, where Doug pastored for many years. As Doug concluded his final message he drew a touching story from his past pastoral experience.
He shared how he liked to express encouragement and appreciation to those who ministered in various ways in his church. He decided on one particular Sunday that he would express his appreciation to the nursery workers. As he approached the nursery he detected the unmistakable odor as it wafted into the hallway. He had to brace himself to walk into the nursery at such a time, but then he heard a man's voice singing, "Jesus Loves You". As he entered the nursery where heavy duty care was being given he saw the worker doing the nasty job of changing a messy diaper as he also sang to the baby.
The nursery worker turned out to be the CEO of a company, not the typical nursery worker that we imagine as we think of this particular ministry in the church. Pastor Sider was taken back by the touching scene, walked over to him, and said "John, that's so nice that you would take a turn at babysitting." He quickly replied, "Pastor, I'm not baby sitting, I'm sharing God's love with the next generation of Christians." It touched Pastor Sider's heart and it touches mine as I write this message today. John had a healthy view of ministry with an eternal perspective that many forget about as they reluctantly volunteer to serve; whether in the nursery or other areas of Christian service less esteemed by others!
Today's text is the only time in the gospels the word "indignant" ("much displeased" in the KJV) is used to describe Jesus' attitude. The word in the Amplified Version is described as "indignant and pained." This was directed to the disciples who rebuked those who were bringing little children to Jesus.
Perhaps they thought they were doing the Lord a favor by protecting Him from the nuisance of those who had come bringing little children for Him to touch. His time was limited, crowds took up valuable space, children were noisy and pampers were yet to be made available so babies could also be smelly. Jesus had more important "adult" issues to deal with.
Yet Jesus responded, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
I am particularly intrigued by the phrase, "for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." The phrase "such as these" refers to the children and those who brought them. Jesus wanted them to come to Him and not be hindered by unauthorized screening from the disciples.
The living Lord continues to proclaim to our generation, "Let the little children come unto me." Of course I am aware that this passage is not specifically related to babies in a nursery but the principle remains the same.
Those who are created by our Savior are to be cherished by His servants. May we never hamper these innocent lives but instead let us embrace them in our affections, through our Christian service, and by our prayerful intercession.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You welcome all to be a part of Your kingdom: the young and the old, the weak and the strong, those born in ideal circumstances and those conceived in the worst imaginable settings. All the days ordained for our lives were written in Your book before one of them came to be. May our welcoming voices and warm touch make an eternal difference to innocent lives born in our hostile world, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Please note: We were at a minister's retreat at Sandy Cove (a beautiful conference center on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland) this past Monday and Tuesday and were unable to prepare daily encouragement messages. Here are several photos from our neck of the woods.
Later in the afternoon we drove down to the tip of the peninsula to Elk Neck state park and walked out to the point and saw the Turkey Hill lighthouse, which was built in 1833. Here we witnessed one of the most astounding public safety hazards we've ever seen. Although there are signs as you enter the park warning of steep cliffs we expected a fence before we got to them. Brooksyne walked a concrete sidewalk that ended right at the edge of the cliff! We sure wouldn't want to take children to this park! Here's an arial view of Turkey Point Lighthouse showing the walkway leading to the cliff.
This past weekend we had dinner with Jack and Milly Provard, long-time friends we first met when we served a pastorate in northern PA and Jack served in a neighboring town. Jack and Milly contine to faithfully serve the Lord and recently assumed an interim pastoral role in northeast Pennsylvania. They have been married over 55 years and Jack has been ordained in pastoral ministry for 50 years! I'm so grateful for diligent soldiers like these in the army of the Lord.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Your Name" Video Paul Baloche This song was prompted by the verse used in the photo this morning.
As morning dawns and evening fades,
You inspire songs of praise
That rise from earth to touch Your heart
And glorify Your Name
"Everlasting God" Video
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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