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p1040003Last night, I had the opportunity—privilege, really—to teach at a small Bible study. The passage I dealt with was Matthew 18:1-4. In this passage, the disciples come to Jesus and ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds with two answers. One has to do with the disciples, and the other has to do with Himself. Without going into a lengthy study of these verses, please allow me to sum up the topic of this passage: The meaning of greatness in God’s kingdom. I encourage you to do a study of this portion and discover Jesus’ view on greatness in His kingdom.

So, last night, I attempted to explain the implications of Jesus’ teaching in these first verses of Matthew 18. I was flabbergasted with the response. It seemed like I was talking about one topic and everyone else was talking about another. It’s as if I was teaching on one planet and everyone else was teaching on another, with no discernable means of communication between the two parties.

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I’m still befuddled by Jesus’ stunning statement that if we do not humble ourselves and become like children, we can never enter the kingdom of heaven. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 ESV). It has helped me a bit to understand that He Himself did that very thing—became like a child. It is not only that our great, magnificent God came as a helpless baby, He also laid aside all powers when He grew into a man that would enable Him to rule over people as a king. It is true that He didn’t disallow Himself all His powers. Clearly, He still possessed the ability to heal, forgive, cast out demons, and exercise authority over nature. However, He did nothing that earthly kings and potentates do when they reign over others. He purposefully chose to deny Himself that power. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53 ESV). From heaven’s point of view, our great Creator God became as helpless as a child when He dwelt on the earth.

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The next section of the Lord’s Prayer we’ll be looking at is, “Your kingdom come.”

Years ago, we used to sing, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah.” Nothing wrong with the song. It’s based on Matthew 6:33. But I’m pretty sure I had only a vague notion of what seeking God’s kingdom first meant. It was something like, “Make it your priority to seek everything that has to do with God.” Not a bad idea, certainly, but that nebulous thought leaves a lot of helpful biblical truth lingering neglected in the shadows. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long ago that I began to ask, “Do I really know what the kingdom of God is?” To my shame—it seems like I’ve been admitting this a lot lately—I never did any significant New Testament study on the topic.

So, what is the kingdom of God and what is it like?

And why should I pray that it would come?

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The fifth portion of the Lord’s Prayer we’ll be looking at is this statement: Your will be done on earth as it is heaven.

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Please allow me to repeat this. Paul said that he, Peter and Apollos were nothing. Paul wanted to make sure the Corinthian believers understood this so “…that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29).

Paul didn’t want a company of people saying they were Paul’s followers, a group who were in “his” fellowship, so they could boast about being in the church of the amazing apostle Paul. He was thankful that he hadn’t baptized many people for that very reason. He simply wanted a church of believers who met together for their mutual strengthening and found their identity only in Jesus Christ.

He wanted to make sure that their “…faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).

This is stunning.

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