Daily Devotion for September 15, 2018
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
If you think about the message here — the Heavens tell the glory of God — this setting by Haydn will be filled with meaning.
As more and more people live in urban areas, fewer and fewer people see the majesty of the skies on a dark night. We should try, sometime during the next year, for at least a moment, to view the sky in a place that is perfectly dark at night.
The heavens are telling the glory of God,
The wonders of his work displays the firmament;
Today that is coming speaks it the day,
The night that is gone to following night.
In every land [In all the land] resounds the word,
never unperceived, ever understood.
Music by Josef Haydn
Lyrics translated by Robert Shaw, based on Psalm 19.
God, though this life is but a wraith,
Although we know not what we use;
Although we grope with little faith,
God, give me the heart to fight and lose.
To Use My Gifts While I Have Them
Heavenly Father, I know that you have made my life on earth temporary. I know that my body will fail, slowly. There are things I can do today that I will not be able to do in the near future. There are gifts of my body that I will not have much longer.
Prepare me, I pray, for the inevitable loss of abilities, so that when they come, I may have comfort in my suffering, the comfort of perfect happiness soon to come. And let me live and use my abilities today, and for the short years while I have them, to live in obedience to your will and to walk in such good works as you have set out before me. In Christ’s name, I pray,
[Give me the heart to fight, even if I lose.]
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Proverbs 12:28 (NASB)
In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death.
Romans 4:9-12 (DPB)
The Righteousness of Abraham
Is this blessing then only for the Jew, or also for the non-Jew?
We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he became Jewish?
It was not after, but before he was Jewish. He received the sign of Judaism as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still not Jewish. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being Jewish, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the Jews who are not merely Jewish but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was Jewish.
Notes on the Scripture
I have rewritten this passage, replacing every occurrence of the word “circumcision” or its derivatives with the word “Jewish.” I think it makes the meaning of the passage clearer. If you want to read a more literal translation, there is one here.
Paul takes us back, in Romans 4, to the time when God first entered into a formal relationship with humanity. The story of Abraham is told in the middle chapters of Genesis. It is a long story, but Abraham believes in God and is faithful to him. As a sign of his faith, Abraham is circumcised, becoming the first Jew.
he Jews became the “people of Abraham” — they were fundamentally Abraham’s actual physical descendants — and they followed the practice of infant circumcision as a sign of their obedience, that they accepted the relationship. Over the centuries, this physical symbol became a critical component of Jewish practice.
But it was faith that led to circumcision, not vice versa. It was their faith, not a mark on their bodies, that created the relationship between the Jew and God. As Paul puts it, faith was counted to Abraham before he was circumcised. Therefore it is faith, not a minor act of surgery, that lay at the heart of the covenant between the Jews and God.
But Paul takes it even further; if it was faith that lay at the foundation of Abraham’s covenant with God, then Abraham was the father of all faithful people — not just the Jews, but also monotheistic Gentiles.
This theme reoccurs often in Romans, because the Jews were taught from childhood that they, and no others, were righteous before God. They were taught that a Messiah would come to rescue Israel. And, indeed, Jesus was the descendant of Abraham, Jesse, and David.
Thus, when the Messiah came, it was understandably hard for them to hear the opposite: that Gentiles as well as Jews were the beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection. But it was critical for Paul to reconcile Jewish and Gentile Christians, so that there would be one unified church, consisting of all those with faith in Christ. He wanted to demonstrate that Christianity, although the culmination of Judaic tradition, was available to all who believed in Christ.