Saturday, February 8, 2014

40 Day Retreat with Jesus: Day 8

So my first full week of the 40 day retreat is finished and although I've fallen behind, I'm doing my best to stay the course and see this through. Today is day 8 and we are in the book of Luke.

Today's focus:
Luke 18:10-14
Jesus: Imagine two men walking up a road, going to the temple to pray. One of them is a Pharisee and the other is a despised tax collector. Once inside the temple, the Pharisee stands up and prays this prayer in honor of himself: “God, how I thank You that I am not on the same level as other people—crooks, cheaters, the sexually immoral—like this tax collector over here. Just look at me! I fast not once but twice a week, and I faithfully pay my tithes on every penny of income.” Over in the corner, the tax collector begins to pray, but he won’t even lift his eyes to heaven. He pounds on his chest in sorrow and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes. Listen, it’s the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up.
Prior to this parable, Jesus is essentially telling us how important it is to pray. Prayer is very important-it keeps us connected and I like having a line to Jesus. I pray throughout the day, my kids see (and hear) me pray, and when I'm in prayer I can physically feel the burden lift from my shoulders. We're called to pray constantly. This parable about the tax collector and the pharisee illustrates that our attitude while in prayer is just as important. Remember yesterday's verse, about how God gives grace to the humble? Well this expands on that a bit, saying that those who come to the Lord humbly are "cleaner" than those who boast about all of their good works. We're not supposed to pray or to be kind or act "nice" to get recognition...that gets you nowhere with God, and He will see right through that. This also illustrates how dangerous the "one-upper" is...our faith is our own with God, I believe it's our business. We need not make others' faith or convictions with God our business. This also leads back to yesterday's verse about how we are not to judge another...interesting how things all tie together :)