January 31, 2021

TWO WAYS TO APPROACH GOD – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Passage: Luke 18:9-14

A doctor, a computer scientist, a little boy scout and a pastor were out for a Sunday afternoon flight on a small private plane.
Suddenly, the plane developed engine trouble. In spite of the best efforts of the pilot, the plane started to go down.
Finally, the pilot grabbed a parachute, yelled to the passengers that they had better jump, and jumped out.
Unfortunately, there were only three parachutes remaining.
The doctor grabbed one and said "I'm a doctor, I save lives, so I must live," and jumped out.
The computer scientist then said "I'm the smartest man in the world, I deserve to live!" He grabbed a parachute and jumped, also.
The pastor looked at the little boy scout and said, "My son, I've lived a long and full life. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Take the last parachute and live in peace."
The little boy scout handed the parachute back to the pastor and said "Not to worry, Pastor. 'The smartest man in the world' just jumped out with my backpack."
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This morning we have a parable about two Jewish men, a Pharisee and a tax collector, who go into the Temple in Jerusalem to pray.......

the parable before us presents two ways to approach God but only one of those ways is acceptable......

The first approach is the Pharisee approach...... (What God Rejects)

- two methods the Pharisee uses in his approach to God.....

¢ PRIDE

- verse 11 "11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers,”.... Luke 18:11

- This man was addressing his prayer to God… but he was actually talking to himself.....

- His main focus was on what he perceived to be his own greatness.....

¢ SELF- RIGHTEOUSNESS

- I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”.... Luke 18:11

- The Pharisee thought that putting the tax collector down somehow lifts him up before God.....

- This man’s self-righteousness is simply proof that he doesn’t really know God......

- people like this Pharisee believe that they are saved because of their religious activities......

¢ -The word of God is clear..... It says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us....” 1 John 1:8

The Second way to approach God is the tax collector way.... (What God Accepts)

- Tax collectors were considered the lowest in Jewish society at that time because they were working for Rome…..

- Most likely this man had become wealthy in his position, but he has come to the point in his life where he realizes that no amount of wealth will satisfy his heart.....

- So he seeks the face of God in:

¢ REVERENCE

- Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector approaches God with Reverence... recognizing that he is a mere man approaching a holy God......

¢ HUMILITY

- Unlike the Pharisee.... the Tax Collector brings only himself and his great debt of his rebellion against a Holy God....

¢ REPENTANCE

- He beat his chest in sorrow, saying, `O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” ......

- Jesus described these two men and their approaches to God and then said this:

“I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 18:14

GOD ACCEPTS THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE HIM FOR WHO HE IS.......

That is what this parable is all about – approaching God because of who He is, not on who we are...

Are you ready to do that today?