December 11, 2019 Daily Devotion

The reading for today is Genesis 15:6

“And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

This verse has a hidden treasure that keeps getting rediscovered!

+ It’s originally from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Abraham believed the Lord’s promise, and the Lord reckoned his belief as righteousness. Contrary to popular impression, righteousness does not refer to “doing the right things” but to “being in a right relationship”. So, Abraham’s trust in God’s promise put him in a right relationship with God. Makes sense, right? I know that when I trust a friend, my trust causes our relationship to go even deeper. The same is true with God. That’s true righteousness!

+ Then the Jewish prophet Habakkuk rediscovered this gem when he observed “Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Faith in the eternal God is far better than trust in things that fade, like riches, popularity, personalities, comfort or our own efforts and good deeds.

+ In the New Testament, the apostle Paul picks up on this theme and makes it a major point of his letter to the Romans. He quotes Habakkuk and expands it to specifically include those who are not Jewish descendants of Abraham: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.

+ Finally, Martin Luther experienced this treasure for himself when, as a diligent monk, he was climbing up the Lateran staircase in Rome on the 28 steps that were believed to have come from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem. He was doing this to imitate Christ’s own ascent on these very steps, and so to gain the merits of Christ by his own pious efforts. All of a sudden Luther remembers these words from Habakkuk and stops climbing, realizing that Christ freely shares the gift of eternal life as a gift received through faith and not as a reward for his own actions. With this profound rediscovery, Luther goes on to initiate a thorough-going reform of the Christian church and theology.

How about us? Can we follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Habakkuk, Paul and Luther by placing our faith in Christ? Doing so will give us righteousness, a right relationship with God, not based on anything we’ve done but solely through our trust in Christ.

That is a treasure worthy of discovery!

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the gift of faith that puts us in a right relationship with you.

Pastor Lanny Westphal

Prayer Concern: Those who have no faith.

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