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Sermon 2/13/05 – Little Children
Matthew 18:3

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Little Children

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)

We recently enjoyed a publication from the “Korea Gospel Mission.”  Under the headline, “We Lost Again,” we read these words: “Our children’s soccer team lost 3 to 5 in an important game.  Still we celebrated by eating noodles together, because we lost 0 to 6 last year.  We have many excuses; our children are smaller, the ages of our children are not even, etc. but we are improving, and our children practice hard.  We may be able to come to (a) draw next year.  Did I tell you about the time our softball team was losing 14 to nothing in the first inning?  I said (to) the children, ‘Why don’t you give up?’  They answered, ‘Why? It’s only the first inning!’

In the United States, as in many other parts of the world, there exists tremendous pressure to remove God, particularly the Son of God, Jesus Christ, from our buildings, from our prayers, from our schools, and ultimately, they hope, from our hearts.  The other day we were handed a newspaper clipping (a paid advertisement) that urged us to sign a petition to stop the County of Los Angeles from removing an image of the cross of Jesus Christ from the County Seal.  The ad asked the question, “What can I do…” and the answer given in capital letters was that we should: “SIGN THE PETITION…”

And perhaps we should sign.  Look to the Lord, for He may be calling you to an active role in such matters.  He certainly is calling us all to join His team, and like the children who were losing “14 to nothing in the first inning,” the game is not over, even though the other team members seem larger.  Note that from a human perspective, the other guys indeed ARE bigger, but we have an advantage, too – The Lord is playing on our team.

There is another article next to “We Lost Again.”  This one is entitled, “I Have Always Been With (the) Losing Team,” written by the pastor/author of the newsletter, Dr. Yoon Kwon Chae.  You might be interested in what he said, particularly if your efforts seem small and ineffectual: “I have been with the losing team all my life. My first church started with 4 people. My wife, (along with) a handicapped man who kept yawning, and a lady who kept talking even when I was preaching. I was rather disappointed and almost stopped preaching.  But, that day, I preached from Luke 14, Jesus’ parable (of) the feast where the poor and the maimed were invited. From that day, I decided to look at back alleys and small path(s) by the highway. I guess that’s why we started (the) orphanage.

Our efforts sometimes seem small; so small that we wonder if it’s all worth it.  Not unlike the author of “I Have Always Been With (the) Losing Team,” I have taught little Bible studies for over 30 years.  Many of them have been like his: 3 or 4 people or possibly half a dozen, and after a time the attendees drift away.  You have to wonder from a human point of view – what was that all about?  Was it worth it?  And I have to respond – Did the Lord call you to the ministry that didn’t seem to be “worth it?”  If He did call you, the proof of that call is not found in the numbers or the response.  The Holy Spirit Himself will take our “small” efforts and make them His victories!

Have you been “converted” by the Lord, as in our Scripture verse for today?  There is more to that verse than we ordinarily think.  The underlying meaning of “strepho,” the Greek word translated “converted” in that verse, is to “turn,” to “bring back,” to “turn one thing into another.”  When you place your faith, your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are turned from one kind of person into another.  And the word translated “children” in this verse is a special one, “paidia,” which refers to a little child, a very young one.

Continuing the analogy of Dr. Yoon’s softball team, you are taken from a team that is older, larger and stronger, and somehow you are turned into someone younger and weaker, which qualifies you for the “losing” team.  That doesn’t sound so good, except you should remember that Almighty God plays on your team.  We give up our human strength, which previously may have seemed considerable, and trust in His strength instead.  Scripture says: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).  If we look at human power, our team appears to be losing.  But from God’s vantage point, the Lord through the Holy Spirit is our pitcher, catcher, outfielder and He is covering all the bases.  If this is soccer (futbal), He is our forward, midfielder, keeper – He plays all the positions.  Though the world may not understand it, He wins the game!  And then shares the credit!  All we did was stand there, often missing the ball, but we trusted in Him, and when He wins the game, He shares the victory with you and me!

We cannot lose with the Lord, when we are “converted” and become His “little children.”  If you follow sports at all, you’ve seen games in which the winning team lost in the first quarter, the second quarter didn’t go well, the third and the fourth quarters were not so hot, and then it went into overtime, and our team won!  Sometimes it’s the referee or the umpire’s calls that make the difference, and our Lord is not only our Coach and plays all the positions Himself, but He is also the Referee!  Actually, He owns the team and has a controlling interest in the other team, and He wants ours to win!  Not fair?  When you think about it, He gives everybody on the other team a chance to join His team, and if they don’t take Him up on it, they can’t really blame Him for the outcome.  As Peter observed, God is “not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

A third article in the “Korea Christian Gospel Mission” contains these words, under the heading, “I Thank God For My Small Ministry,” which says this – “And now, after fifty years, I am still a minister of a small congregation of the lost and abandoned.  I am still teaching small classes.  I am still preaching to the persecuted in North Korea. But I thank God FOR MY SMALL MINISTRY. In fact, in these days, we are getting more than a few lost and abandoned babies in our children’s home, some of them come without names. I named one “River,” hoping that he will become like (a) river… keep flowing, accepting everything and filling every valley of despair.

Do the events of your life make you sometimes feel discouraged?  Don’t give up; it’s only the first inning.  Become one of the Lord’s “little children” and the victory, along with the “the kingdom of heaven” is yours.  Keep on TRUSTING in Him.

Lord, I will take the risk and trust in You, even though it seems like I must become a little child in order to do it.  I receive You now.  I trust in You, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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