The human struggle is often about finding a safe, secure place and then having a sense that one's life is worthwhile, productive.

So, where to find that safety? And how do you come to know that life is worth living?

The best place to start is at the source, in the presence of the Creator.

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He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, 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 18:9-12

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Today’s Scripture passage is one half of a parable in which Jesus contrasts the prayers of a Pharisee and a tax collector. Jesus’ hearers, who trusted in themselves and looked down on others, would immediately assume that the righteous Pharisee would be the hero of the story. But this is not the case. Today, the Pharisee might pray, “God, I thank you that I’m so much better than everyone else, especially _________ (insert your own prejudice here). I attend church (almost) every Sunday and go on mission trips each summer!”

The problem is that the Pharisee is so self-centered and self-righteous that he has cut himself off from God and those around him. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Right relationships with God and with our brothers and sisters are intertwined. Both begin with humility and the knowledge that no matter how “good” we are, our salvation comes from God alone.

Tracy Hartman

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God, you tell me in Luke 15:7 that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. It is easy to believe that I am righteous and so much better than others. Today I am reminded that I, too, am a sinner, in need of your love and grace. Forgive me Lord, grant me humility, and help me to extend love and grace to others who are as sinful and as righteous as I am. Amen.

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As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Tracy Hartman

Tracy Hartman is a professor of practical theology and homiletics at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Tracy loves to hike and camp and is an avid knitter and quilter.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent

Ken Medema

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