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Wednesday
Jun132012

Little Children


This is a lesson for little children, a group that is represented well here today, and which is not at all unlike one that approached Jesus a long time ago. Little children are also people that the apostle John wrote to, although he probably enlarged his group to include older "children."

Discussion

I. Jesus and Little Children

A. Let the Little Children Come to Me

1. Jesus had just taught his disciples a very difficult lesson about marriage and divorce, when the people in the crowd began to seek a traditional blessing from the teacher for their children (Matthew 19:13-15)

2. the disciples at first thought it was a bad idea for the parents to bother Jesus with children, many who were probably too young even to understand what he was teaching, but Jesus straightened them out, welcoming the little children

3. he even said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like them -- there was something in the little children that the grown-ups needed to imitate

4. that was something he had tried to teach them before (Matthew 18:1-4)

a. humbling oneself like a child is a sign of your willingness to accept the authority of Jesus, to be taught, corrected, and encouraged; to find happiness in serving someone like a parent

b. as little children, these are probably qualities you have, but as you get older, they become more difficult to hold onto because of pride and ambition

B. Revealed to Little Children

1. that wonderful, rare humility, then, comes to be a part of the character of real Christians, no matter how old they are (Matthew 11:25-30)

2. you are young enough to hold onto it, but if you do not, you will have to work to get it back

3. here, humility is accepting that you do not know everything; it's the attitude you need when you go to school so that you can let the teacher tell you something you need to know and the attitude that shows you that your parents know things you haven't even thought of yet, and that the Bible can help you make it through life in a happier and better way

4. Jesus even offers himself as a teacher and example to help you figure it all out

C. Yet a Little While (John 13:33)

1. right before he was arrested, Jesus ate supper with his closest friends, and he paid them a compliment by calling them "little children" (John 13:31-35)

2. they were grown men, but they were showing signs of being humble and child-like enough to learn and serve

3. he gave them a simple piece of wisdom, that they should love one another, and that if they did that, people would be able to tell that they were his disciples

a. when we get older, we get stingy with the word love and we become afraid to use it, or even to allow ourselves to feel it

b. even teenagers are sometimes embarrassed to tell their parents they love them, or to hug them, and it hurts their parents

c. something good that you want to hold onto is the love that you feel for the people around you, and not be afraid to show it

4. one of the people at that last supper with Jesus was his very close friend, John, who later wrote three letters that near the end of our New Testaments

a. like Jesus, he spoke to little children, even though he often used that term to describe believers who were older

b. in his first letter, John gave seven instructions to little children that will help you be faithful, enjoy a good life, and go to heaven

II. Instructions for Little Children

A. That You May Not Sin (First John 2:1-3)

1. sin is doing something that breaks the will of God, and it can be as obvious as killing someone, or as common as telling lies or stealing little things, or even disobeying your parents

2. God's hope is that we learn not to sin, and when we find that we have, that we will admit it and ask everyone to forgive us

3. God wants to forgive us, and when we are honest, it is easier for others to forgive and trust us as well

B. Your Sins are Forgiven (First John 2:12, 13b-c, 14b)

1. eventually, little children get the opportunity to make a very grown up decision, to obey the gospel and become Christians

2. when you reach that point, it is the greatest victory you will have on Earth, overcoming all the excuses and fears to put your life in the hands of Jesus and to find forgiveness

C. Abide in Him (First John 2:28)

1. to abide in something is to live in it, and John had in mind that little children should live in Jesus, live in his love and follow in his footsteps, doing what Jesus did

2. Jesus was honest and helpful and he showed his love for people by sacrificing for them

3. if we live after that example, we can have confidence when he comes back one day, and we will not have to feel ashamed like we have been busy doing the wrong things

D. Let No One Deceive You (First John 3:7-8)

1. the devil, however, wants us to sin because he wants to keep us out of heaven

2. sometimes our friends or other people will try to get us to do bad things by tricking us into thinking no one will find out or that it is not a big deal, so we have to think hard and choose the right thing that Jesus would have us do

E. Love in Deed and Truth (First John 3:16-18)

1. it is often hard to share when you think about what you're giving up, or to help when you would rather sleep or play, but when someone needs us, our hearts should be open to them

2. John said it was easy to talk about love, but much better to show it

F. He Who Is In You (First John 4:4)

1. John was talking about people who teach things that are not true, and he showed that God's little children can overcome them if God is in their hearts and they are in their Bibles, learning what is true

2. our spirits are like muscles that need to be exercised and trained, and we do that by reading the Bible and using what we learn when we have to make decisions

G. Keep Yourselves From Idols (First John 5:21)

1. an idol is anything that is more important to you than God -- it can be sports, money, hobbies, grades, or even yourself

2. all those things are good, but we have to be on guard so that none of them becomes so important to us that we are willing to put them ahead of Jesus, who died for us

Conclusion

Little children and little children of all ages, the gospel is for you, to guide your feet and reach the humble where they can be taught and saved.

Questions for Review


  1. Why might the disciples have objected to the parents' bringing children to Jesus?

  2. What child-like quality did Jesus find particularly worthy?

  3. Why is it hard for others to accept his teaching?

  4. At what point do children become morally accountable before God?

  5. What is involved in abiding in Jesus?

  6. How does the devil try to deceive the believer into sinning?

  7. What idols trouble us today?

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