“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’.”

Luke 18:13

Even after we’re born from above, this prayer should never be far from our lips.

His Mercy.

Jeremiah knew that’s what keeps us from getting what we deserve and being consumed in God’s righteous judgment (Lam. 3:21-23).  Assuredly, we should be thankful for His Grace, by which we’re saved and receive eternal life (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9); however, it’s His continuing, day-by-day Hand of Mercy that prevents His wrath from fully falling on us.

Today’s Manna is taken from that poignant parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (vv.9-14).  True-to-form, the pompous, proud, self-righteous Pharisee was proud of his religiosity and wanted to let everyone know it, even though in this case he evidently kept it to himself (vv. 9-11a).  Even so, he might as well have been broadcasting it from the highest point of the Temple, for it’s clear he was really referring to the nearby tax collector when he said “I thank You that I am not as other men are.”

Oh, is that right?

Do we ever reach a point where we can honestly say, “Lord, I thank You that I’m not like so-and-so over there”?  Well, maybe with regards to our “Do and Don’t Do List.”  But, dear Pilgrim, that’s not what God looks at; He looks at the heart and our secret intents/motives (Heb. 4:12).  And, when we forget it’s “only by His mercies that we’re not consumed” (Lam. 3:22), then we’re on pretty dangerous grounds.

King David was truly a “man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14); yet, that didn’t keep him from succumbing to the “lust of the flesh, eyes and pride of life” (I Jn. 2:16) and yielding to temptation.  After it came to light what had happened (II Sam. 12:7), David was “broken in spirit and heart” (Ps. 51:17) and knew his need of God’s “tender mercies that would blot out his transgressions, wash him thoroughly from his iniquity and cleanse him from his sin” (vv.1-2).  And, it would only be because of those mercies that the Lord God would/could “create in him a clean heart, renew a right spirit within him and restore unto him the joy of His salvation” (vv.10, 12).

In this day-and-age of “It’s all about me” and proud presumption, how we need to remember the poor tax collector who “smote his breast, refusing even to lift his eyes toward Heaven and prayed, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’.”  Even after we’re adopted into God’s Family, we still need to remember Who He is. . .who we are. . .and what we need.

His Mercy.

It’s found at His Feet, dear Pilgrim.  Thankfully, He’s given us a standing invitation to “come boldly to His throne of Mercy and Grace to find what we need in our darkest hour” (Heb. 4:16).  May you spend much of today giving thanks for “His Goodness and Mercy” that hem you in to the strait-and-narrow (Ps. 23:6) and reaches down to the “chiefest of sinners” like us (I Tim. 1:15).

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated August 17, 2009

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