|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:
Romans 4:5-8 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
We are justified and made free from sin through no works of our own. We did not earn it - indeed, we cannot. But receiving such a precious Gift warrants a response from us, which is where the life-changing "blessedness" comes in that Paul mentions in Romans 4. It is very fitting that we are reading Romans 4 today, of all days. For this day affords us the perfect illustration of Paul's meaning in Romans 4.
In the United States, today is Memorial Day. Memorial Day commemorates the men and women of the United States military who have given the ultimate gift to preserve our nation's freedoms.
What does that really mean anyway? Our nation's freedoms are given to each of us, who live in this great country. But this gift of freedom was not free, which we all enjoy and are often tempted to take for granted. Freedom costs blood.
To get some scope of what has been given, from just one war, visit the website called the Wall of Faces. There, the names of the pictured men and women we lost in Vietnam are revealed with the move of a cursor.
One thing you'll notice as you run your mouse over the many pictures is that most of those who died were under 20. They gave their lives at such a young age, that most of the things I have enjoyed were denied them.
In the 29 years beyond my 20th birthday, I married my wonderful husband, welcomed two beautiful children into the world, and I've been right by their sides to celebrate every birthday as they've matured. I've been given enough time to be a loving partner in life for my husband, and a devoted mother and teacher of my two children. In just a few weeks, I am looking forward to helping to celebrate my son's wedding.
And the blessings go even beyond. For God has blessed me and my family to be able to serve Him in ministry, as I dreamed as a child. When I think about all that I have been given, I begin to get a sense of what others gave up when they gave their lives fighting to preserve our nation's freedom.
Think about it... Have you lived longer than the war heroes who died fighting for this country? If so, what have you been blessed to accomplish in those intervening years? Those are all things which those young war heroes never got the opportunity to enjoy. In a very real sense, their lives were cut off at the beginning, that folks like you and me might enjoy life in its fullness. Freedom is a very expensive gift!
In September of 2005, a social studies teacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.
The kids came into first period, and found that there were no desks. They looked around and said, “Where's our desks?”
The teacher said, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”
“No,” she said.
“Maybe it’s our behavior.”
And she told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”
And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class.
They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, “Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I’m going to tell you.”
She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did
They placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the classroom wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids-for the first time I think perhaps in their lives-understood how they earned those desks.
The teacher said, “You cannot earn those desks. These guys did it for you. It's because they have fought and kept this nation free you have the opportunity to learn and be educated. They put the desks there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it."
Not forgetting involves living thankful instead of taking our freedoms for granted. This means that when we hit our knees tonight, we should say a prayer for those who long for the company, the loving touch of the one who gave his or her all for you and me.
But there is a spiritual application that goes even deeper. Not forgetting what our spiritual freedom has cost means that we never take Heaven's Gift for granted. It is costly beyond comprehension. Recognizing this causes us to change the way we live, in much the same way it changed the way those students studied! Freedom does not give us license to live as we lustfully please! It gives us the ability to walk in the new "blessedness" of living faith. And this is what Paul was talking about in Romans Chapter 4.