Prayer, the Pharisee and the Publican

Luke 18.1-14

Jesus tells two parables about prayer and the kingdom. The first, the widow and the unjust judge, challenges us to consider our view of God in prayer. The second, the Pharisee and the tax-collector, challenges our view of ourselves.

Prayer is a non-negotiable for a follower of Jesus. We live in an in-between time in enemy territory, waiting for our King to come back. In the waiting, it’s easy to become discouraged, especially in a culture which is becoming increasingly hostile to the gospel. So we are to pray at all times and not lose heart.  We pray for our circumstances in light of the kingdom and the return of the King. What does that mean? It means that we put our current situation…medical diagnosis, marital problems, work/school tensions, finances, etc. in perspective. What does God want to accomplish in and through me in this situation? How can I have the greatest kingdom impact in this circumstance? How do I reflect Jesus? We have a loving heavenly Father who hears our requests and who cares about our circumstances. He’s given us the Spirit. He will provide justice…He will vindicate His children. The kingdom awaits.

As a believer, we have been forgiven our sins. We have the righteousness of Jesus. But that does not mean that we can approach God with flippancy or spiritual pride. When we pray, we are still totally dependent on Him for His mercy. So we pray humbly, bringing our petitions to God, not as a Judge waiting to punish, but as a Father who delights in His kids. When we pray with a right view of God and a right view of ourselves, we become more moldable, more pliable, better able to be shaped…to be transformed, and then are in a good place to impact the kingdom by serving others out of our love for God and people.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, the tax collector’s prayer is a great model…no matter how far you may think you are from God, no matter how bad you may be, no matter what you’ve done…cry out to Him, “God, be merciful to me the sinner!” Believe that Jesus can save you from your sin and trust Him to do so. Then watch Him work in your life.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Confused

Genesis 10-11

Why are we so fascinated with making a name for ourselves? As I thought about this passage, I wondered why Moses included this story about the tower. Is it simply to explain where the different languages and people groups come from? Surely there is a bigger purpose. He wants to teach the ancient Israelites something about God. So what is Moses trying to teach them and us from this account?

When we try and make a name for ourselves…it is rooted in pride…and what is pride but giving ourselves the worship that God deserves, it’s worshiping ourselves as god. It’s rooted in pride, is often expressed in rebellion and leads to confusion. It confirms our own sinfulness…the truth that every intent of the heart of man is only evil continually. The first recorded group project does not turn out so well…it is a monumental act of rebellion with far reaching consequences. It echoes the sin in the Garden, and the promise that you can be “like God”. The sin of Babel is both pride and rebellion, the making for ourselves a name so that we might be famous. It’s the throwing off of the yoke of obedience and even dependence to declare ourselves sinfully independent. And it’s a refusal to obey God…defining good for ourselves apart from what God has revealed…”Let’s build a tower and a city so that we are not dispersed over the face of the earth.” The effects of the fall from Genesis 3 continue. The root cause of sin was not dealt with in the judgment of the flood, only its effects on people and creation at that time. In addition to Noah and his family and the animals, sin hitched a ride on the boat and continued its reign over mankind and all of creation through Noah and his descendants.

No doubt God judges sin. But even in His judgment we still see His mercy, His amazing, undeserved love. In the shadow of the flood of Genesis 6–8, God could have chosen a much more severe punishment for their sin. Instead He puts a halt to it. Man’s rebellion does not thwart God’s purposes. God acts in sovereign ways to accomplish what He wills. God’s plan for man after the flood was that they multiply and fill the earth. Now they will fill the earth. 

Babel once again highlights the consequences of man’s attempts, through sinful independence, to be his own god.

The cycle continues. God’s faithfulness…our rebellion. The image-bearers failing to image Him, to reflect our perfect, benevolent, beautiful Creator God to His creation. Yet God continues to pursue…the Seed of the Woman. Genesis 3.15.

But what about you? Where do you find yourself building towers, looking for fame, rebelling against God, making a name for yourself? The desire for selfish independence and for god-status is still alive and well. We’re still building towers. But God hasn’t given up on us. Moses reminds us once again that the Seed of the Woman is coming…that He has come in the Person of Jesus, the Son of God, to do what we could not do…provide the way back to God. To conquer sin and death. To restore the image so that we might return to Paradise. That by faith in Jesus, who lived the life that we were supposed to live, totally obedient and dependent on God, who died the death we deserved to die, that through faith in Him we could participate in the most absurd gift exchange in the universe…His righteousness for our sin…so that we can have life…a different kind of life, real life, eternal life with Father God in His kingdom. I don’t understand it, but am amazed by it. I can’t explain it except for God’s incredible, amazing love.

My prayer for us this week is that we recognize our own tower-building tendencies and turn them over to Jesus, the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster