Matthew chapter 18

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The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Causing to Stumble

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] [a]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

(O)

What really stands out today is having faith like a child. I personally find it hard to wrap my mind around that concept when the pressures of adulthood are so in your face all the time. At least, in our daily perspective, we face immense pressures. We have to go to work, we have to pay the bills, we have to make sure the car is in good working order, we need to cut the grass, we need to get the kids to sports, we have a social life to maintain.  There is a lot to do each day, and we often grumble about being busy. But look what has happened. Suddenly, we are very concerned whether we will have a job tomorrow, we can’t go anywhere, sports are gone, socializing is discouraged, we fear an unseen virus. Suddenly all those past pressures are nothing in comparison to the new reality. So we have a choice, we can wake up each morning and allow fear to rule our day and run around in vain trying to figure out what to do, or we can take a step back and go to Daddy. Do you remember those days being a child and mom and dad taking care of our every need. We never gave the worries of life much thought. This is what Jesus is asking of us. Come to Dad, He will look after all our worries. He will comfort us. He will be our protector. Doesn’t that sound so much better than trying to figure this all out on our own?

(A)

Taking inventory of my worries right now seems like a good idea today. Then, placing them squarely at the feet of the Father. I know fears won’t just disappear immediately, but committing to consistently give them to the Lord whenever they pop up is a good habit to get into. In a previous chapter, Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Focus thankfully today on God’s provision.

(P)

Father, I confess today that I have allowed worry to rule my day sometimes. Father there is nothing that is too big or too powerful for you. You are in control so I place all worries and fears I have regarding the uncertainty of tomorrow at your feet. Take these from me and help me to come to you as a child. Help me to completely trust in you today, and again tomorrow, and again the day after that. You are an awesome and mighty God. Thank you for what you did on the cross for me. In Jesus name, amen.

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