The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

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by Luke Kincaid

For the past two weeks our children’s ministry has been up and running and it has been so much fun to be interacting with the little ones again! I have been reminded that children are such an important part of church gatherings because we actually have a lot to learn from them:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a small child and had him stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child — this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in my name welcomes me – Matthew 18:1‭-‬5 CSB

I love these words from Jesus as they show us the importance of possessing a childlikeness in our everyday lives. But what does this mean practically? Got Questions puts it like this:

“So, as the disciples focus on what constitutes “greatness” in heaven, Jesus provides a new perspective: the way “up” is “down.” Meekness is required (cf. Matthew 5:5). Jesus exhorts the disciples (and us) to seek to possess a childlike modesty in addition to their faith. Those who willingly take the lowest position are the greatest in heaven’s eyes. A young child is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness and is therefore a good example for us. Children are characteristically humble and teachable. They aren’t prone to pride or hypocrisy. Humility is a virtue rewarded by God; as James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).”

Wow… how amazing is it that the reminder of how we should strive to live out our daily lives as children of God can be seen around us nearly all the time. Children are the reminder that as disciples of Jesus we are called to humility – not having to worry about our pride or succumb to the temptation of self-righteous living.

We can happily take the lowest place because we worship the highest King! We do nothing to earn our place in God’s family and we do not have to try and do so just as little children don’t try to earn the favor of their parents. So let’s all try and be a little more childlike today by showing humility and by being teachable while throwing our pride aside.

Much love,
Luke

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Your Goodness is Running After Me

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by Calven Celliers

One of my current favourite worship songs is Bethel Music’s “Goodness of God” and as you settle down to read this blog post I would encourage you to take 5 minutes to listen to it now. So, tap on link below, meditate upon these lyrics, and allow the truth of these words to fill your cup:

https://youtu.be/-f4MUUMWMV4

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”  

The beauty of this entire Psalm, never mind just this verse, is that it gives us opportunity to thank God for His goodness as we recount His faithfulness and praise Him for it. One commentary that I consulted as I prepared this post made the observation that this Psalm “contains nothing but praise. It is tuned to rapture, and can only be fully enjoyed by a devoutly grateful heart.”

Scripture never guarantees us a problem free existence. In fact, Jesus made it quite clear in the Gospel of John 16 that “33 …In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33NIV) and it’s when you’re in the middle of those tough times that you may very well find yourself asking, “If God is good, why does He allow bad things to happen?” This is a natural response when life is turned upside down. It’s hard to sing about a good Father when you’re slap bang in the middle of difficult circumstances.

I’ve personally found that the best way to overcome doubts about God’s goodness is to understand the importance of perspective. We have a ground-level, here-and-now perspective that doesn’t always take the full scope of reality into account. God, however, does. We have a snapshot of reality. God sees the big picture. He has the panoramic, wide-angle lens.

Even Jesus had to face difficult and painful things while on earth. He was tortured and endured a painful, unjust death. However, His death and resurrection made a way for us to be reconciled with God. Through something that seemed bad, God was able to do something very good.

Sometimes, you will be able to look back at painful seasons in your life and see how God ultimately used them for good. Other times, you will never fully understand the purpose of what you’ve had to endure. That’s when we have to trust that God sees more than we can see. He knows more than we know. He works in ways beyond our comprehension. And if we agree to follow Him only when we understand what He’s doing, we’ll always stop short of experiencing His inexplicable wonders.

We are living in a broken world, and sadly bad things do happen to good people, but I want to encourage you with the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Rome:

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38 & 39NIV)

Despite what’s happening around us, or even to us, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

The reason that Paul could say what he said, with such confidence, is because Jesus is alive. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father and He is interceding for you and me; His love is a moment-by-moment action to bring us to everlasting joy. Everything is under God’s sovereign control and the dominion of His Son; He works in and through all things for our good and His glory! No matter what’s happening around us, we can hold firmly to this truth, that nothing will ever separate us from the enduring love of God.

Whatever you’re facing today, my prayer is that you will remember that the goodness of God is running after you. He is always working for our good. His goodness surrounds us like a shield. The plans He has for us are good. He is abounding in grace towards us and He is committed to finishing all the good things that He has started in us. So may the words of your mouth boldly declare this day that God is Good, ALL THE TIME!

God bless you,

Calven

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Sometimes God Gives Us What We Want And Not What We Need

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“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
1 Samuel 8:19-22 NIV

The people said: “Give us a king to lead us”
Samuel was dismayed
To the LORD God he prayed

God said: “Listen”
“It is not you they are rejecting
“They have shunned me as their king”

God said: “Listen to them
“But warn them too
A king will demand his due”

Samuel said: “Listen you who want a king
“A monarch will claim his right
Your fields, your produce, an army to fight”

The people said: “We want a king!”
The Lord said: “Listen to them
“And give them a king”

Samuel acquiesced,
The people dispersed
Sometimes God gives us what we want
And not what we need

We are free to choose our course in life
And so we often cause our own strife
Yet God still brings blessing from pain
He will be King over Israel again

Though great evil came from the wickedness of kings
A true King was born to save us from our sins

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“May the Lord Guard Your Coming In and Going Out”

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by Graham Mol

Today something brought to mind an inscription that had caught my eye during a tour to Israel that we did with a group from the Church in 2013. Here is a photo of it:

Fragment of the mosaic floor in the atrium of the crypt after the church’s reconstruction in the 7th-cent. The Greek inscription, from Psalm 121, reads: “May the lord guard your coming in and your going out.”

 

“May the Lord guard your coming in and going out.” This phrase refers to Psalm 121:8

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time and forever” (NASB)

I remember thinking at the time, what a wonderful blessing! Today I feel that I have an even deeper appreciation. These words were a prayer over our family during the hard lockdown last year, when leaving the house to go out to the shops felt like an expedition into the unknown. We were all so mindful of the risk of leaving the safe isolation of home to go out among others, potentially exposing ourselves to catching the dreaded coronavirus while we shopped for essential supplies.

As we’ve come through the first and second wave, and restrictions have loosened up, life has settled into a sense of normal where we go out without too much apprehension anymore. We forget what it was like at the worst times last year. Pausing to reflect, as I consider the words of Psalm 121:8, I am grateful that the Lord did guard our coming in and going out. We were shielded from the dreaded infection.

As the potential “third wave” looms, I can be at peace as I trust the Lord for continuing to keep watch over us as a family.

And so, I say to you, dear reader,

“May the Lord guard your coming in and going out.”

 

God Bless

Graham

 
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