Week Four: Do I Count

Ps 3:3-6
Romans 5:6-8
Matt 19:13-15


Problem: To consider ourselves to lack value when God wants to relate to us, has a place for us and considers us important enough to die for. The boy with busy parents.
Lesson of Jesus with the Children
Hallmark of Christian People: to make a place in our hearts, homes and churches for children.

Week Four: Lord, Do I Count?

Last week’s sermon explored how sin divides people. Rooted in a false faith that rejects reality, sin hurts and it alienates. Overcoming the power of sin begins with accepting the world as it is rather than as we wished it were. That is fundamental to seeing the opportunities we have to love others with Christ’s love (John 13:34b). We were created and our creator determines our design and our purpose. We have gone our own way in some areas of our lives. As a result, we attempt to live in a world we prefer to believe in rather than the one that exists. That gets us in trouble. God knows that and loves us anyhow. That love is a foundation we can stand on as we begin to unravel the power of sin in our lives.

This week’s sermon takes a look at valuing people, another way we love with Christ’s love. God’s love values others. Many people fear that we don’t count for much. They put up with too much figuring they don’t deserve any better. Sometimes they are pleasers loosing themselves in a compulsive rush to make other people happy. Some just get angry at the thought that they don’t count and get involved in a whole bunch of strange behavior. They drive others away, do not see grace when offered, are blind to their options and attack the very people who God put in their lives to bless them.

People conclude that they have no value for a lot of reasons. One of the most common reasons are parents who are too involved in their own lives. The temptations are huge. Career, maintaining the home and more and more. Frankly, grandparents and great grandparents can be powerful instruments of God’s love when both parents work and run about with their own concerns.

Many people don’t mean to send the message, “You are not important to me.” They don’t recognize what they are doing. They are not evil people intending harm. Yet, their lives are out of balance, too much of what I want to do, need to do even have to do and not enough room in their lives for others.

I think God invented aging in order to supply the need of children and youth to be valued. Retired people have the time they can choose to make available to others and some experience which just might count as wisdom. All of God people have been given the basic assignment, bless others. Retirement from employment creates possibilities younger people don’t have. As Christ’s people, how do we value others? Mostly it is a matter of seeing the world through God’s eyes, asking for direction then following God lead. Sounds simple enough, but in fact it is difficult. Do you want to get along with others? I know I do. But you cannot get involved in your grandchildren’s lives or the lives of others around you without running the risk of upsetting someone. The more urgency you feel, the more likely it is that someone will be upset with you. So we often see an opportunity but rather than respond to it we find someone to complain to. “My daughter has no sense.” “That neighbor needs to grow up!” “How stupid can one person be!!” Ever hear that. It is certainly true that it is less risky to complain than to do. But people hunger to be valued. God’s love values. If we allow ourselves to respond to God love, we will value. So once again, how do we do it?

Some years ago I took Karate with my son. In the class was a boy whose parents were always busy. A co-Karate classmate was a friend of the boy’s parents. Knowing I was a pastor, he asked me for advice.

The fellow explained that the boy’s parents were always absent. Their absence was showing in their son’s life. He was beginning to decide that his parent’s just did not think he mattered.

I suggested he pray, “Lord, what would you have me do?” Then listen. I promised to pray in support of him.

The truth is that the person who really understands the best is the one closest to the situation. Be that as it may, I could tell from the expression on his face he was hoping for an answer that did not involve him doing anything, but that’s life. Want to make a difference? You have to do something.

To his credit, he took the suggestion. He was reluctant. He did not want to make trouble. After he thought about it, though, he knew he needed to say something. So he did.

After a couple of weeks we noticed that the boy’s parents began to take time to enjoy their son. They would stay for 15 minutes or so after dropping him off, then comment on what they saw when they picked him up.

The fellow who approached me said one night that he had never seen the boy smile as much. My co-Karate classmate had intervened gently in his buddy’s family and God’s will for this boy began to happen. That is a beautiful thing to do for a friend, a neighbor or a child in your family. It takes a bit of courage and some prayer, but it is a beautiful thing to do.

I think you already know this. People of all ages hunger to be valued. There is much in life that tears us down. Rebuilders are precious. We are called by God to be a part of the reconstruction crew.

Nothing says to another that we value them like being there. The gift of our time, an understating heart and acceptance speaks volumes. When God wanted to let us know how much He treasurers us, he came and lived with us. Jesus became Emmanuel – God with us. Like the parents taking time to be with their son, like a wife who cherishes her husband, God walks with us. That was God’s first gift of valuing. God dwelt with us. It is often our first gift to another who needs to know that they count.

When we take time to be with people, to hear them, to have a cup of coffee with them, to call or remember their birthday we are saying, “You count.” That is where God began. Often, that is where we need to begin.

One of the moments from Jesus’ life I particularly treasure is when the parents were bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed. You will find the story in Matt 19:13-15

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him
to place his hands on them and pray for them.
But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
15 When he had placed his hands on them,
he went on from there.

Guys, have you ever thought of why Jesus’ disciples objected to the parents bringing their children to be blessed? They did not consider the children to be important enough to waste valuable time and energy on. But Jesus set them straight. In doing that he also sets us straight. Jesus deliberately took time for the children because he wanted show the world that they mattered to God. The gift of time says, “You count.”

One of the hallmarks of Christian people is that we make a place for people in our hearts, homes and churches.

This week’s memory passage is Matt. 19:14

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

This week’s prayer is,

“Lord, how can I show others that they count?”

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