Romans 4:1-12 (NRSV)
Abraham counted righteous by God for his faith
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
"Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin."
Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Let me offer a few thoughts before your eyes cross regarding all the talk about circumcision! (smile)
In 2009, we may be tempted to think that this argument is over. For no longer do we stand in churches and argue that people cannot be saved, join the church, or be baptized until they are circumcised.
But, isn’t it true that we DO sometimes judge the “righteousness” of others by characteristics that we can see with our eyes? For example, I don’t know about you, but I have been in churches where a homeless man has walked in and people have turned up their noses in disgust or where a young teenage male with sagging pants, a platinum grill, fingernails painted black, or a pink mow hawk has found a seat on the back row and people snicker. I have heard people talking about drug addicts, prostitutes, felons, and/or “baby-mamas” with the absolute assurance that they are beyond the pale of God.
See, when people don’t look or act how we expect them to, we sometimes judge them unworthy of God’s salvation. We would never say it, but our actions speak louder than our words.
I will never forget the day, when I was a young girl, that a pregnant teenage mother gave her testimony in church. As she waddled to the front, everyone began whispering behind their hands and snickering their, “Lord have mercies…”
When she got to the microphone, she had a very simple message that profoundly changed my life. She said, “My sin is visible and your sins are hidden. That is the only reason you can so boldly judge me. I am so glad that JESUS forgives both of us for our mistakes!”
What a wonderful GOOD NEWS testimony! Following her words, it was completely silent in my very large church. You could have heard a pin drop. It was on that day that we all remembered that, “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”
My friends, we can never know the condition of someone’s heart and we can never know whether they have placed their faith in Jesus. That is a matter best left to God--and God alone--to judge.
Is there someone whom you have been judging harshly to whom you can show love today?
Gracious God, some of my sins are apparent and others are hidden, but all are in need of your forgiveness and grace. Please forgive me for thinking that I was better than any of my brothers or sisters. For I know that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Thank you for the GOOD NEWS that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Help me to faithfully and urgently share this GOOD NEWS with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today is WORLD DAY OF PRAYER (WDP). WDP is, "a worldwide movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year. Through WDP women affirm that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world." For more information please visit http://www.worlddayofprayer.net
Good News has now added a prayer ministry. If you have a prayer request or praise report, or would like to pray for others, please click the link found under my profile picture. Thank you!
The Good News Living Book Club will be reading Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard during March. You can purchase the book by clicking the link to the right. Please mark your calendars for our very first book club meeting to be held on Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 9:00am.
Most of the songs shared in this blog can be purchased through AMAZON.COM by clicking the GOOD NEWS LIVING store to the right.
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Pastor Yolanda extends a very special welcome to our friends reading outside of the United States of America! We are honored that you are sharing with us today.
from Pastor Yolanda's blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com