Luke 17-18, Psalm 119:33-64
When my mother died a difficult death with cancer in 1987 it began my walk with God in faith. However, for one of my brothers he became bitter and angry with God for what happened. Approximately 4 years ago, my oldest brother suffered the same fate as my mother. For my nephew (he is my age) it initiated his walk in faith as he turned to Scripture, while at least one if not both of his sisters have become angry with God for the loss of their father. So often, people become angry with God because they expect things to happen as though they deserve them. But this is where we get it wrong. We deserve nothing, the fact that we receive anything is by God's grace. Rather than becoming angry with what we don't have, do we continually thank Him for what we've been given. We are like the child who wants to buy his mother a gift for Christmas and goes to the store with $1.23 in pennies for a $100 pair of shoes. We don't even come close to having what we need. But when the shop owner moved by love and grace gives the shoes to the child, this is like how God mercifully and gracefully gives us what we can't possibly afford or achieve on our own.
When Jesus is instructing His apostles, He illustrates the correct mind-set in Luke 17:10, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' " When Jesus heals the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19, only one of them returns to actually thank Jesus. We read in Luke 17:15-16, "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan." In the beautiful Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, after the Pharisee exalts himself in prayer giving God a laundry list of all the reasons he believes that he deserves God's blessings we see contrasted with this the tax collector. In Luke 18:13-14, we read, "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
In our relationship with God we must honestly humble ourselves and understand just how much higher He is than us. The people in Isaiah's day didn't get it when Isaiah quotes them as saying to God in Isaiah 58:2, "Why have we fasted, they say and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?" But Isaiah sees himself correctly in relation to God, as we read in Isaiah 64:6, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;...". We must remember that what we receive from God is not merit based but mercy based. We must also remember that for those of us who have accepted God's call to be His children, we are citizens of heaven and ambassadors on earth (Philippians 3:20). When life seems to not be going as we planned while we have dedicated ourselves to Him, we should all be reassured by the interchange between Peter and Jesus in Luke 18:28-30, "Then Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You." So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: