Lesson Nine


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Memory Verse: Matthew 19:14
Further Study: Matthew 18:1-6; 20:20-28; 19:13-15; Mark 9:33-37; 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17; The Desire of Ages, pp. 432-442; The Bible Story, vol. 8, pp. 94-97; vol. 9, pp. 9-14

There’s a child in our congregation I’ll call Naomi. She was recently baptized. As part of her baptism, her mother stood up to give her testimony, which was as much her mother’s as it was the child’s. The mother began with an apology before launching into her story. Naomi began asking for baptism at the age of 4. She declared her intention of becoming a pastor, loving Jesus, and desiring baptism. Her parents put her off. She continued her request at the age of 5, and 6, and by 7, her parents set her up with baptismal studies hoping that would satisfy her, but it didn’t. Finally, her parents said, “when you’re eight, you can be baptized.” As Naomi stood in the baptistry that morning, the top of her head barely seen over the top of the tank, it was her eighth birthday. She was baptized the moment she was able. Her mother’s apology to the congregation was because Naomi was so young, but her parents recognized they could no longer hold her back.

Her parents recognized they could no longer hold her back.

Another child in our congregation—let’s call him Liam—was baptized at age 9. Again, his pastor father and family couldn’t restrain him. That was a year ago and there have already been several baptisms from his class due to Liam holding Bible studies with his friends.

The Bible records that the disciples rebuked the children who wanted to see Jesus. The disciples were running interference for Jesus, keeping them from Him. We don’t know why they did this. Perhaps Jesus was praying or had requested some solitude. Maybe He was resting to prepare for His next confrontation with the Pharisees. But whatever the reason the disciples decided that Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by children. Yet Jesus demonstrated that children are important and able to express their love for Him (and so were their mothers—read “Digging Deeper”). Jesus’ message was then and today: Don’t keep children from Me, but encourage them to come.

Don’t keep children from Me, but encourage them to come.

My eight-year-old grandson keeps a prayer journal. I had no idea until his mother shared a page from it the other day. Under “People I’m Praying for” was my name “Grame,” misspelled (Grammie), but there it was all the same. I was more than touched. All heaven hears my name because a little boy is praying for me.

Baptism, Bible studies, and prayer journals are not just for adults. Children are more than capable through a spirit of innocence and truth to do as well (better?) than their grown-up counterparts. While I’m not advocating baptizing children before understanding, and it’s why a mother felt she needed to apologize to a congregation for not adhering to tradition, it is a reminder that we are not to be gatekeepers for Jesus, but to guide, encourage, and support our children’s love for Him no matter how small it might be. We should not hinder but help.

We should not hinder but help.

My daughter was in line at the post office when her two-year-old broke into a loud and rousing rendition of “I have decided to follow Jesus.” While our instinct might have been to clamp a hand over his mouth, we should resist our desire to hush such a witness and remember the words of the psalmist: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise” (Ps. 8:2).

Let’s bring our children to Jesus and in doing so they (and we) will be renewed.

2024 Renew: Staying with Jesus Adult Devotional — Available now!

Book Two of the Renew series offers short, meaningful devotions that cover the life of David to the early years of Jesus’ ministry—just a few minutes to read, offering a new perspective of Scripture. Take a moment each week and be renewed.

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  • Suggestions for life application

A perfect gift for mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandma, or grandpa! A must read that will make the Bible come alive. 


Digging Deeper 

The visit to Jesus wasn’t all about the children. Jesus was also concerned about their mothers. Here are some amazing and encouraging quotes to hide in your heart today.

“The mothers were comforted. They returned to their homes strengthened and blessed by the words of Christ. They were encouraged to take up their burden with new cheerfulness, and to work hopefully for their children. The mothers of today are to receive His words with the same faith. Christ is as verily a personal Saviour today as when He lived a man among men. He is as verily the helper of mothers today as when He gathered the little ones to His arms in Judea. . . . 

“Jesus knows the burden of every mother’s heart. He who had a mother that struggled with poverty and privation sympathizes with every mother in her labors. He who made a long journey in order to relieve the anxious heart of a Canaanite woman will do as much for the mothers of today. He who gave back to the widow of Nain her only son, and who in His agony upon the cross remembered His own mother, is touched today by the mother’s sorrow. In every grief and every need He will give comfort and help. 

“Let mothers come to Jesus with their perplexities. They will find grace sufficient to aid them in the management of their children. The gates are open for every mother who would lay her burdens at the Saviour’s feet. He who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not,” still invites the mothers to lead up their little ones to be blessed by Him. Even the babe in its mother’s arms may dwell as under the shadow of the Almighty through the faith of the praying mother. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. If we will live in communion with God, we too may expect the divine Spirit to mold our little ones, even from their earliest moments.”

The Desire of Ages, p. 512

Making it Real

Being a mom is not easy. And it never really gets easy, it just changes. One might worry about an infant’s progress, but the worry is transferred to how the child fares in Middle School, to their friend choices in High School, to whom they select as a life partner, and then to grandchildren. But we know if we partner in parenting with Jesus, He will not only care for our children and grandchildren but us as well. Spend some time this week, reviewing some of these encouraging scripture texts, one for each day this week.

Sunday: Proverbs 31:28-29
Monday: Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Tuesday: Proverbs 31:25
Wednesday: Proverbs 23:22-25
Thursday: 1 Peter 3:4
Friday: Deuteronomy 4:9
Sabbath: John 16:21



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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