Jesus responds to James and John jostling for position with a response neither was expecting, that a little child is the greatest, and that unless they become like one they will never enter the Kingdom. Continuing the thought Jesus makes it clear the responsibility to not cause little ones to stumble is with all of us, and the consequences terrifying.
Engage with God’s Word
Consider Matthew 18:1-6.
- What have you understood by ‘Kingdom of Heaven’?
- Have you ever considered how the Kingdom of Heaven is evidenced in your life? In the life of your family?
- Is Jesus referring only to the danger of causing a child to stumble? Or is He referring also to those who ‘become like little children’? Are there times when you have stumbled in your following of Jesus?
- Take a moment to pray. Ask God if you have caused others to stumble. Ask God for forgiveness.
- Have you shared your anxieties with others before taking them to God? https://www.bible.com/bible/niv/1pe.5.7.niv”>(1 Peter 5:7). Is it possible sharing your stresses and worries have caused others anxiety too?
- As a parent have you considered how your language and tones can share your worries with your children? Discuss ways to help one another with this.
Consider those issues which are causing you to worry or be anxious, write them down with today’s date. Now commit all that is written to God, allowing the Kingdom of God to be present in you and these issues. Continue throughout the week to pray whenever these issues resurface. Be aware of these issues creeping in to conversation with your children around, ensure your language and tone are not amplifying anxiety in the home.
Katherine mentions the competing tensions in her life as a mother. Everyone has competing tensions in their lives. You could be a student who needs to work to fund their studies to the detriment of those studies. You may be working to provide for your family at the expense of family time. We all have times in our lives when our priorities compete against each other. Jesus helps us simplify this when he teaches us how to pray. When we consider the Lord’s Prayer, there are eight steps he shows us. “Our Father who art in heaven” speaks to God’s character. “God’s will” speaks to his insight. “Give us today” is God’s provision for us. “Lead us not into temptation” speaks to God’s protection for us. “Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us reminds us that forgiveness is something we need to receive and give.
Engage with God’s Word
Consider Matthew 6:9-13.
- Who has been a woman of impact in your life? What are the characteristics that impacted you?
- How has this influence been evident in your life? Has this influenced your parenting or relationships?
- Have you considered who you influence in your life? Take a moment and write down the people you influence.
- Are there ways you could change your parenting or relationship style to be more intentional? List three first steps you could take to be more intentional.
- Taking time both with God and to refuel is an important part in the balance of life. What does it look like for you to have time with God each day? How do you replenish your energy, faith and your hope?
- Consider what small changes may be necessary to achieve better balance to help you negotiate the competing tensions in your life.
Discuss the Lord’s Prayer and its different aspects and pray through a particular situation using this framework.
Pastor Dale speaks of the opportunity we have to bring about in our families blessings or curses. He mentions Jesus as a circuit breaker. When the love of Christ is evident in us we can bring blessings to our families, the generations that are already and those yet to come, even when there has been a heritage of curses, violence or broken relationships.
Engage with God’s Word
Consider Genesis 12:2, 15:5-6, 16:15-16, 17:1.
- Consider your family history. Are all lines similar in character and behaviour, or, are they drastically different to one another?
- Have there been people in your family who have influenced the generations that have followed? How did they influence the coming generations?
- Pastor Dale mentioned that today’s teenagers and young adults are the first generation to know things their parents and grandparents had not learnt before them. Have you seen younger generations impacting older generations in this way?
- In the verses we are looking at there are three blessings expressed – the blessings of faith, hope and love. What could each of these look like in your context?
- Take a few moments to pray about these blessings and what they could be. Write down a prayer asking God to guide you in bringing about these blessings through your actions with those you are in relationship with.
- Consider who in your relationship network may be asking for more information, more input, more time from you. How might you build that into your family rhythm? Is there something you need to stop to make room for investing in someone else more?
Having a picture of how you want to impact those around you and those yet to come isn’t enough of itself. To bring it to fruition, we need to form a plan and then act on it. In the light of your discussion around the questions above, discuss what God has been showing you, what is He saying to you and how He wants to work in you to influence those around you. Now pray for a plan, even a first step, and write it down. This week start on your first step.
Pastor Scott reminds us we each have a lens – a way of looking at things that colours our thoughts, decisions and relationships. It could be the lens of expectation, where we project our hopes and dreams onto others, placing expectations on their behaviour, priorities or choices; or the lens of circumstance, where our season of life – the pain, the suffering, the lightness or heaviness – means we see everything as dark and gloomy or as unrealistically light. Pastor Scott points us to the lens of the Kingdom of God, with its power to reshape our lives and our relationships with others.
Engage with God’s Word
- Have you ever considered how you view the world and your relationships? Which lens do you see things through?
- Have you considered how the lens you see things through effects your own decisions and behaviour? Is there something God is asking you to look at differently – a relationship, a situation?
- In your wider family and community, you may notice how someone’s lens can stop them seeing a new truth. How can you help them see things through the Kingdom lens?
- Over the family series we have considered the legacy we will leave our children and others whose lives we impact. Which lens are you sharing with them? In what ways could you be more intentional in sharing the Kingdom lens?
- Take a few moments to pray about the lens you see a particular person or situation through. Write down a prayer asking God to guide you in changing the lens. Include the ‘not yet’ factor in your prayer – that which God is showing you is to come.
Changing the way you view a situation or relationship can be hard at first. Discuss ways to catch yourself operating through the old lens.
Once you have reflected on the questions, discuss what God has been showing you and what He is saying to you. Is there anyone to whom you owe an apology as a result of the lens you have viewed things through? Ask God to help you find a way to apologise and for His Holy Spirit to bring restoration. Commit to the plan; write it down.