Worship Service – October 3, 2021

Scriptures; Psalm 26, Philippians 2:1-11

Sermon Scripture; Luke 18: 9-14


“Thanks” or “Thanks, But NO Thanks”

Psalm 26
(1) Vindicate me, O Lord , for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
(2)Test me, O Lord , and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
(3) for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.
(4) I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites;
(5) I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.
(6) I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O Lord ,
(7) proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
(8) I love the house where you live, O Lord , the place where your glory dwells.
(9) Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with bloodthirsty men,
(10) in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes.
(11) But I lead a blameless life; redeem me and be merciful to me.
(12) My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the Lord .

Philippians 2 1-11

Imitating Christ’s Humility

(1) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(5) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
(6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
(7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
(8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!
(9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
(10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
(11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Luke 18:9-14

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

(9) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: (10) “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
(13) “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.’
(14) “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

When I started to prepare the message for this week, I started by praying Psalm 19:14, David’s Prayer; “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord , my Rock and my Redeemer.”
In my preparation the Lectionary I looked at suggested Psalm 26, which we read together today, and I struggled with this passage of David’s, because it almost sounded like he was praying like the self righteous pharisee, in the parable Jesus told in Luke’s Gospel. “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”(Luke 18:9-14).
The Pharisee’s prayer, almost appeared to be like an old “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip in which Calvin is talking to his stuffed tiger Hobbes (whom he imagines to be real and his best friend). He says: “People are so self-centered.”
Then he adds philosophically, “The world would be a better place if people would stop thinking about themselves and focus on others for a change.”
Hobbes sort of rolls his eyes and thinks aloud, “Gee, I wonder who that might apply to.”
Calvin answers, “Me!. Everyone should focus on me!”
Bill Watterson’s cartoon character Calvin could have been the poster child for the Pharisee in today’s gospel from Luke.
In parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, we find the Pharisee we love to despise. I’ll bet he had an alarm clock and phone that didn’t ring, they applauded. He’s the kind who had a mirror on the ceiling of his bathroom so he could see himself when he gargled. This guy’s greatest admirer was his wife’s husband. He was so full of himself that when he showed you a personal photo it was a group photo. We’d be billionaires if we could buy the Pharisee for what we think of him and sell him for what he thought of himself.
This guy was interested in getting into heaven and he was hoping that God would grade on a curve so he was pointing out the lowest scores.
But there’s a danger here. We have to be very, very careful because, unfortunately, the reason we love to despise this guy is because he makes us feel better about ourselves and our failings. We have to be careful because in despising this guy for his superior attitude, we are committing the very same sin of pride.
Paul understood that this could be a stumbling block in our understanding of humility. He understood as we should, that pride is the opposite of humility. That’s why he wrote to the Philippians, their need to learn to be “Imitators of Christ humility”,(Philippians 2:1-11).
If you were with us, in our worship service on any given Sunday, you would find that’s it’s our normal practice, after reading our worship Scriptures, you would hear the reader say;”This is the word of God, for the people of God”. Then the response by most all in attendance would be;”Thanks be to God”. But are we? Do you leave here today and adhere to God’s words in, ”Thanks”? Or do you leave and not give His word another thought. Saying, “Thanks but No Thanks”.
Let’s look at this parable and see how Jesus said “Thanks,” to the one who gave “Thanks” and “Thanks, But NO Thanks” to the one who gave “NO Thanks”, to anyone but himself.
Let’s look at the Pharisee first. Let me make one thing clear. The Pharisees were the good guys. They weren’t the bad guys. A lot of confrontation happened between Jesus and some of the Pharisees but we need to emphasize that it was only some of them. Some followed Jesus, notably Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
You see, the whole Pharisee movement was a holiness movement. They were trying to live a holy life, pleasing to God in all ways.
Jewish law said every person was to fast once a week as a sign of repentance for their sin. Pharisees didn’t think that was enough. They fasted at least twice a week. Not only that. But the Pharisees were on the leading edge of social reform. They fought for the Jewish people in their oppression by the Romans. So, you see, they weren’t the bad guys. They were the good guys. But a lot of them had forgotten their relationship with God and had assumed a higher position than they really had.
This Pharisee reminded me of the couple who was moving from their neighborhood to another part of town. The snobbish woman who was moving explained the reason for their move. At farewell luncheon she said: “Our business has been very successful. It’s time for us to live among a higher class of people.”
Her neighbors answered her by saying that they were going to do the very same thing. That took the snobbish woman by surprise, and she asked, “Oh, are you moving too?”
And her neighbors enthusiastically answered, “No, we will continue to live right here.”
What was troublesome to Jesus were those who, in their zeal to serve God, had forgotten to give thanks to God. Or as verse 9 describes them, those: “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.”
This Pharisee should have known better. But his self righteous, self congratulatory attitude got in the way. He didn’t offer up any prayer of thanks giving. Instead he stood before God and listed all of his qualities and all that he had done.
He moved himself into the judgment seat when he gave thanks that he wasn’t like other people.
And you know, when Jesus said: “Do not Judge, and you will not be judged,”(Luke 6:37) He wasn’t just giving us some saying to be put on a bumper sticker or engraved on a plaque and hung on the wall to be forgotten. This was a command to be lived in our everyday lives. This was a command to live as a mark of faithfulness. God heard that self congratulatory, thank less prayer and said: “Thanks, But NO Thanks.”
Then there was the Tax Collector. There was probably no one who was held in more contempt in Jewish society than the Tax Collectors. Lepers got more respect. You see a Tax Collector was a traitor. The Romans managed to keep their troops supplied while stationed in Israel through taxes. They taxed the local citizens to pay for their own bondage.
They didn’t send out tax forms. Instead, they sold tax franchises to the highest bidder. The one who promised to bring in the most money got the job of tax collector. He could collect as much as he wanted, as long as he brought the Roman officials the amount they had bargained for.
Tax collectors were traitors and thieves. They worked for the enemy. They filled their pockets and their bank accounts with what they could skim off everyone else’s taxes. And yet, once again, Jesus compares the faith of one of these traitors with one of the righteous Pharisees.
And no wonder, this Tax Collector knew the old adage: “Don’t brag, it’s not the whistle that pulls the train.” It’s obvious this Tax Collector didn’t need anyone to remind him that he was despised or that he was a sinner. People reminded him of that every single day. Every time he collected taxes.
But his prayer was heartfelt, simple and humble. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
He didn’t make a big long list of his wrongs. He didn’t try to justify himself by giving excuses. He didn’t try to gloss over any with the, “Well, everyone else is doing it” excuse. He didn’t try to bargain.
He simply sought mercy and forgiveness. And God’s response to his “Thanks” was “Thanks!”
He didn’t try to exalt himself, yet he was exalted. And “he went home justified”, rather than the pharisee.
For us the message is simple. The attitude we’re called to emulate is that of the Tax Collector. For he thanked God for the word of God, in his actions. As Paul reminds us;”Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”
As Christians we already know our relationship with God is through Christ.
It’s a relationship with God with an attitude that deals realistically with our relationship with God and our own sin. An attitude that doesn’t sit in judgment of others or compare the so called lesser sins of our lives with the horrendous sins of theirs. An attitude that realizes that God doesn’t grade on a curve. An attitude that seeks humble forgiveness and mercy. An attitude that is a “Living Thanks” to God.
Let me share with you one last thought. There was a young boy who wanted to measure himself, to find out how tall he was. But he didn’t have a ruler. So he made one. And then he measured himself. “Nine feet! Mommy!” he shouted, “I’m nine feet tall!” We laugh, but that’s how it is when you measure yourself by your own ruler.
That’s the mistake the Pharisee in the parable made. And that’s the mistake some of the Pharisees who Jesus confronted were making. They were the good guys but they were blinded by their own self-righteousness. They couldn’t take their eyes off of their own selves long enough to see God’s grace working in other peoples lives. All they could do was look down their nose.
God is the only true yardstick we have. And the only true yardstick we need. We can’t look in the mirror and see our true reflection! We have to stand before God and see our true reflection, reflected as it’s reflected in the light of Christ’s eyes.
That’s the reflection God looks for. Not the one we hold up but the one for which Christ willingly let Himself be held up on the cross for. The one that shines in the darkness of the empty tomb. It’s in that reflection that God sees and we see who we really are. For it’s in that reflection that God sees our living and heart felt,“Thanks”.
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one gave “Thanks.” And one gave “Thanks,” that was really “NO Thanks” at all. And as a consequence, God said, “Thanks, But NO Thanks.”
Be like the Tax Collector.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20211003
Listen To Audio: Service 10032021
Prayer of Confession:    Today, God we confess our fumbling’s and failures in accomplishing unity, as we set aside yet another day to remind ourselves of the task.  On this World Communion Sunday, give us eyes to recognize your reflection in the eyes of Christians everywhere.  Give us a mind to accept and celebrate our differences.  Give us a heart big enough to love your children everywhere.  We thank you for setting a table with space enough for us all!



Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Social Hour today following church. Greeting cards for signature are in the Community Building.

Loose change goes to Local Missions

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 1:00! Please come a join us in singing praises to Jesus! 

“Feed-a-friend” mission starts today.

PW will meet Thursday October 14th at 11:00.

Session meets Tuesday, October 19th, at 9am in the community building.

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday October 20th at 8:00 A.M.

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday October 26th, 2021.

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month. 

EMAIL address for the church has been changed to:  fhpc400@att.net  

The PW is selling Franklin Hill Presbyterian Cookbooks called  “Recipes From The Hill” at $10.00 each.  All proceeds go to missions.  See Debbie Stalker.



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