We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet together, we take time to share our joys and concerns. If you have any prayer requests, please add them as a comment to this post, or you can contact someone from the church. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Heavenly Father, I come to You in faith, knowing that You must be the only object of my faith and that without You I can do nothing. I put my trust in You, Lord, knowing that You are faithful and will never disappoint me. Help me look to Jesus, moment by moment, and to anchor my faith in Him Who is the Living Word, knowing that without Him I can do nothing... and yet in Christ I can do all things. Thank You, Father, that it is not the amount of faith that is important in Your sight, but the One in Whom I place my faith. Thank You for Your goodness, grace, and unfailing love. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
This week's lesson is on Matthew 18:1-9.
The title Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah. Both refer to the anointed one of God, God's chosen king. In some places, writers will say "Jesus the Christ" in order to emphasize the title. Christ is not Jesus' last name.
All of the gospels include the phrase, "kingdom of God," to talk about God's rule on earth. Matthew also includes the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven." To receive the kingdom requires that people be born again and obey the will of God. Today's lesson also reveals a third condition to enter God's kingdom.
The initial discussion of greatness centers on being great on earth. Certainly the Messiah would need other people in authority, just like an earthly kingdom. But the kingdom of heaven is different. The disciples would need to reconsider what was important. They would need to become guileless and without pretense, like a child.
Children rely on others to care for them. There is little they can do for themselves. This is the kind of reliance on God required of us.
When Jesus says, "And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me," our book says that this is not referring to a literal child. Instead, it means that we should show hospitality to all people. This is an example of practicing humility.
Causing a person to stumble is meant to causing someone to transgress from God's law. Followers of Jesus should not cause other believers to sin, and they should not abuse any authority that they might have. Either would lead to swift and certain judgment.
Believers must throw away anything that causes them to sin. Our book says that the last few verses are part metaphor and part hyperbole. They are meant to sound extreme in order to drive home a point. Remove causes of sin.
We are bombarded with messages and images that celebrate people who appear great by the standards of the world. We must embrace Jesus' definition of greatness -- it must include childlike humility.
Further, followers must remove those things that would cause themselves or others to stumble in sin. Finally, followers of Jesus must embrace an attitude of trust and humility. We should be confident that God will provide for his people and show mercy consistent with his nature. When we embrace this attitude, we will share in the promised glory from God.
Heavenly Father, transform our hearts and minds so that we will continue to seek the kind of greatness that is required in your kingdom. Orient our hearts toward the actions and habits that mark citizens of your kingdom. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
Our benediction this week is from the New International Version.
Next week's lesson is on John 4:7-15, 28-30, 39-41.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.