March 10, 2020

I Want To Be More Holy

March 10, 2020


Psalm 128

Isaiah 65:17-25

Romans 4:6-13


Isaiah 65 asks us to imagine God’s new creation, where infants thrive and grow up in God’s grace, where old folks have long, useful lives, enjoying the house they built or the garden they planted. There, even former enemies live together in peace, the predator with the prey, and “they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain” (v. 25). This scene of hope is what we cling to in a time of acrimony and blame, a time when interacting with others on opposite sides of an issue seems too difficult to attempt. How do we begin to live the way God intends? How will we come to the blessedness of God’s peace?

Paul’s words in Romans 4, give us pause. We no longer think the outward sign of circumcision is a crucial mark of identity for God’s people, but in Paul’s day many people did. This was an issue that threatened to split the early church. At first Paul, a good Pharisee, thought circumcision was essential, but after much reflection, prayer, and study, he changed his mind. Paul concludes that God found Abraham to be righteous before he was circumcised because Abraham already had faith; and furthermore, salvation doesn’t depend on any outward sign or physical characteristic—it depends on faith in God alone. 

Following the law offers guidance that can smooth our way, but Paul also saw that the law can be a stumbling block when we claim it is the law that makes us righteous. As part of our Lenten reflection, we can ask, “Is God’s blessedness only for us or does it extend to others who outwardly don’t seem to live or act exactly as we do?” “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them” (v. 8).


  • The Peaceable Kingdom depicted in Isaiah 65 is sometimes used on cards we receive during Advent. What do Advent and Lent have in common?
  • What do you think caused Paul to change his mind about requiring circumcision? What caused Peter to change his understanding of “what God has called clean” (Acts 10:11-48)?


Sing “Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart” and talk about what it means to be holy. (UMH 402)


Remind us, O God, that your word is near to us: on our lips and in our heart. Lead us by your Spirit through the wilderness of doubt and fear to call upon your name, for the sake of your Son Jesus. Amen.