Thursday, February 3, 2011

Are You Like the Pharisee or the Tax Collector

I know I have talked about judgment before, but it is an ongoing struggle with many, to include myself. I found myself today asking, "Lord, am I the only one that struggles with not judging others? Am I the only one that has such a hard time controlling that sin?"

No, I'm not the only one and it is most unfortunate that we in the flesh find ourselves continuing to commit these sins. What can we do? Give ourselves fully to Him and go to Him with a repenting heart. All too often, I'll catch myself (especially while driving) chewing someone out for being an "idiot," or a "fool." Thankfully when my grandchildren hear me iterate those words, they correct me. I'm thankful they have listened to my telling them that calling others names is wrong. God is so good!

The problem being, I go to Him later to pray and have not asked for forgiveness. Most times I do automatically ask Him to forgive me when I've acted out foolishly. But on those times when we don't repent, we are going to Him with condemnation in our hearts.

While reading an article in the "In Touch" Feb. issue through In Touch Ministries, I read "The Prayer that God Hears" by Kevin Goins. In this issue he talked of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Matthew 23:5 "They do everything to be observed by others;" (talking about the Pharisees).

Luke 18:10-1410 "Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 the Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: 'God I think You that I'm not like other people--greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get."
13 "But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, 'God, turn Your wrath from me--a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather then the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Exalt from
1. to raise in rank, honor, power, character, quality, etc.; elevate: He was exalted
to the position of president.
2. to praise; extol: to exalt someone to the skies.
3. to stimulate, as the imagination: The lyrics of Shakespeare exalted the audience.
4. to intensify, as a color: complementary colors exalt each other.
5. Obsolete . to elate, as with pride or joy.

I use this reference of the Pharisee and the tax collector as it shows the Pharisee going with a heart of pride and condemnation. When we pray with that in our hearts, God will not listen to nor answer our prayers. Today I realized that there are areas where I have judged and not asked forgiveness, where I have not repented.

So when you pray, ask Him if there are areas in your life where you do not have a clear conscious and then when revealed, repent. Then and only then will He hear your prayers. I know I am so grateful for this time I've had to sit quietly, read, seek, listen and hear.

Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness. I pray that we may all come to You with a clear conscious, of a forgiving heart of love, with no pride or condemnation on our hearts. I pray that each person who reads this will receive blessings abundantly in peace, joy, prosperity and grace!

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