The Surprising Way Back to God

Some people work so hard to ingratiate themselves to God. They follow one law and one rule after another. They build and build, work upon work, until they feel confident of their own righteousness.

But to be in a right position with God is so much easier. And so much harder.

Instead of climbing a ladder of righteousness we have built out of our own goodness, we need to put that ladder down. Then we simply ask God to love us, to forgive us, and to show mercy to us. We beg him not to treat us the way we deserve to be treated.

This may come as a surprise. But the way back to God is not to climb up. It’s to humbly — repentantly — bow down. Because you have a Savior who wants nothing more than to give you his righteousness.

But only the empty-handed can receive that gift. And that’s why you want to put the ladder down right away — just like the tax collector did, in a parable Jesus once told:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, April 17, is Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Luke 18:1-30 and Psalm 47:1-9.

Lord, give me a humble heart. I am a sinner. But I want to be a penitent sinner. Please grant me forgiveness of all my sins. With this tax collector I pray: Please have mercy on me, a sinner.

Header image based on "Ladder to heaven" by Johan Hansson, CC By 2.0

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pastorjeffgunn

I'm married to my beautiful wife Julie and have five kids whose names all begin with the letter A. I'm a pastor at CrossWalk Church in Phoenix, AZ. I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. Huge Arizona Cardinals fan! Reading, hiking, camping, travel, and fishing are my top 5 downtime pleasures.

One thought on “The Surprising Way Back to God”

  1. Our Bible reading for Friday, April 17, is Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Luke 18:1-30 and Psalm 47:1-9.

    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭9-14‬ NIV)

    Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭17‬ NIV)

    Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭24-25‬ NIV)

    Heavenly Father, I come before you with humble heart and mind. I am just a man, a sinner. Lord I ask with a penitent heart to forgive my sins. I come to you with the eyes of a child. I am in awe of your splendor, of your grace. The innocence of a child is a wonderful gift. Thank you Lord for my children for my children and the children of those I love. Father you have blessed my family and so many of my friends. Help us all to put you first in our lives. Help us to share what is needed to be given. Help us stay rich in faith above anything the earth gives us.

    ~Paul Montenieri

    Like

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