Maureen McQuillan reflects that it’s that time when we recall the events of the first two chapters of both Matthew and Luke regarding the incarnation.
Many came looking for the one destined to be the Saviour of the world. Doubtlessly those who discovered the babe of Bethlehem were overwhelmed and wondered in their heart how his future would develop as he grew up and what would happen to the child.
Involved with the Father’s business
Certainly his mother Mary, and her husband Joseph, would have been wondering when one Passover some years later they couldn’t find Jesus.
Eventually they ‘found him in the temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers’ (Luke 2:46-47).
We have a book of illustrated Gustave Dore carvings – such as the one below entitled Jesus with the Doctors (those teachers of religious law).
Joseph and Mary had a different attitude to the intrigued teachers: ‘They were not impressed; they were upset and hurt’ to which the young boy responded, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?”
Being his guardians, this is understandable but the scripture points outs, ‘They had no idea what he was talking about’ (vs 48-50).
Christian parents need the Holy Spirit’s assistance. Parenting is an awesome responsibility: We need to regularly encourage our children in the ways of God, to develop their own personal relationship with him. To know that Jesus has a great plan for them, that they are so important to him. We need to see the potential in them not only for life itself but for kingdom roles as heavenly king’s kids.
Jesus saw the potential
Mark 9:36-37 records Jesus’ attitude towards treating children well: ‘He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me.”’
In response, chapter 10 reveals that adults understood what he was teaching, even if his disciples didn’t: ‘The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very centre of life in the kingdom.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them’ (vs 13-14, 16).
This is strong language – ‘Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very centre of life in the kingdom!’ As adults it’s our duty to see the kingdom potential in our children right from an early age.
Seeing kids’ potential in Christ
Kids as scripture infers are a gift from God! Wise parents and ministers will recognise many opportunities for Christian kids to be centre-stage – not just for some talent show but for Jesus in our churches.
We adults must see their potential in Christ and encourage them in every way we can: not hold them back because some visionless people consider them too young to understand or to be responsible.
In ministering around different churches, it’s a delight to Robert and me to observe how some pastors encourage young kids to share in meetings, especially if they have a good singing voice. At one middle-eastern church, it was a joy to see how a young lad we’d prophesied over, years ago when first hearing him sing, is now a great young man exercising his platform potential.
And it’s also a delight to find parents, like those mentioned in the scripture above, bringing their young children to us for a blessing at altar time. What a joy it is to seek God’s favour and protection on these little lives and a Holy Spirit prophetic word in respect of their future.
Grandparents can inspire grandchildren
Bonnie-Jane Phillips, our granddaughter, is our delight and a typical example of how a child embraced by Jesus and encouraged by adults can make a difference (Link: Encouragement article).
She would get caught up in meaningful church worship even as a little girl, leave her seat and dance in the aisle getting closer and closer to the front. I remember well how one young pastor leading the worship in a church we were visiting observed her doing this. Smilingly he did not discourage her but suggested that everyone should be so free in God as she was.
Over the years we would sometimes take Bonnie-Jane with us when we went ministering and encourage her to pray over people. Her heart was open and even as a young child her simple prayers were sincere, meaningful and heard by God. The Holy Spirit would flow through her and touch people in some wonderful ways.
One occasion stands out in my recollections…as Bonnie sat at a dining table with us, she laid hands on people on either side and prayed. The anointing fell on them and they were deeply touched by the Spirit. A number even slid to the floor under the table!
And this was no ‘big time preacher’ – just a little kid sensitively caring for people with needs.
Bonnie-Jane today is a professional carer loved and welcomed by many recognising her caring heart and abilities. Beyond this secular career she has been ministering to young adults. Just recently she phoned to share her latest – what she called ‘an awesome God-experience.’
Trusting the Spirit
Bonnie-Jane had been praying about her future and God brought Christian Iranians, new to Australia, into her life. Although their main language is Farsi, which she didn’t fully follow, she caringly assisted them.
One night at a local Baptist church Alpha Course, the group was praying in Farsi and on completion of an enjoyable dinner, they indicated that Bonnie should pray for them.
Naturally she didn’t know what the ever-so-earnest prayers had been about. But, taking a deep breath and relying on the Holy Spirit as we’d taught her, Bonnie prayed from her heart. Then she realised that everyone was crying and she thought she’d said something offensive!
One of the group smiled and explained, ‘No…you just prayed in English what they’d been praying in Farsi! They’re thrilled and now a number would like you to pray for healing for them.’
Bonnie’s second challenge followed as she found herself led to pray for different sicknesses that people couldn’t describe due to their limited English. A night of blessing for them and a fresh encouraging experience for our granddaughter that inspired her to move ahead in serving the Lord.
She phoned us to relate what she called her ‘Awesome God-experience.’ Since that time she has gone further in helping boat people, even learning Farsi, and always relying on the Holy Spirit.
Wise seniors see Jesus’ potential in kids
Luke 2:25-38 relates how aged seniors Simeon and Anna with God’s direction saw the potential in that little babe of Bethlehem and daringly prophesied over him.
God had amazing plans for Jesus and that he would fulfil them with the Spirit’s back-up (Acts 2:38). Similarly Jesus sees in our kids potential that sometimes parents, pastors, teachers and even the children themselves don’t.
I encourage every adult, especially parents and grandparents – even those in their 80s like Anna – to see our kids as the very centre of the kingdom – to delight in helping them to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and their greatest friend.
And to encourage them to dedicate their talents and abilities to his service as they follow him.
May we be as Simeon and Anna of old were; and as Jesus did, think highly of all kids.
Maureen McQuillan is a gifted communicator ministering practically and prophetically. Links: 041 161 5855 / firstname.lastname@example.org