Advent 2013: Day

The law of God we cannot keep

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Today's Text: Exodus 20:1-17, Romans 8:1-4, Matthew 5:17

Text: Exodus 20:1-17, Romans 8:1-4, Matthew 5:17

The Law of God That We In Our Own Strength Cannot Keep

Reflection

We all know on a very rational level that we’re never going to achieve perfection in this life. Yet that doesn’t stop us from striving for it.

As Christians, our example of perfection is Christ. We study His words, we pray for wisdom and discernment, our hearts yearn for godliness. Every day we fall. Every day we bite the fruit and deny Christ.

God knows this, so he sent Jesus. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2) His life, his perfection, covers all our sins.

So if we are unable to keep the laws our Lord set before us, and if Christ’s life covers that for us anyway, why would we try at all?

For some, it’s a checklist. A way to show others how strong we are on our own. “I’ve never killed anyone, I’ve never cheated on my husband, I pray every single day.” This line of thinking, the “good works” mentality, negates the grace of God. It tricks us into thinking that we didn’t need Christ’s sacrifice of His life because we can be perfect on our own.

Our desire to be more like Christ should come from love and gratitude. Christ fulfilled the law because He loved us so very much. When you love someone, you want to honor them. You desire to make them proud, to try your best. We strive for obedience and ask for forgiveness in our shortcomings because we love our Father and His Son.

God gave us the ultimate gift of love by sending His Son to take on on human form and be put to death just for our sins. Let us prepare our hearts and give thanks to Him in this season of hope and remembrance.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

Prayer

Lord, as we prepare for the different parts of this holiday season, let us stop to remember your gift to us. We know that every day we fall, yet you still cover us with your grace. Thank you for letting the law, through Christ, become an act of love to you instead of a list of rules we have to obey.

Advent Action

Take time today to write and send a handwritten, anonymous note to someone you know, using grace-filled encouragement or words of comfort.

_____________ 

For an added layer of worship and study, we chose a beloved Christmas song for each day of our Advent plan. We invite you to listen to In The Bleak Midwinter today as we dwell on the truth of God’s word together.

  • A quote from the famous Timothy Keller…
    "To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of sour self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us."
    God loved us SO much that He sent Jesus to die for OUR sins.
    O Praise to the one who loves us so much.

  • Praise the Father and the Son for doing immeasurably more and loving immeasurably more than we ever could. Papa, I love you; draw me nearer to thee. I need to find rest in your wings.
    Ladies, give me prayer as I enter these next 2 weeks of schooling to finish off the semester- it'll no doubt be very stressful, and I want to keep Christ the top priority during this time. Also, I'm fighting my flesh on a lot of issues with others, so pray that He'd kill that flesh, that law, and make the spirit ever more alive in me during this season. Papa, we need you!

  • What beautiful promise in this reading for today! I kept finding myself writing THANK YOU in the margins of my Bible. And in the Exodus passage writing, "Eek! Thank you for Jesus." I am grateful my children and their children don't have to pay for my sins (vs.5)…holy moly, that would suck. And talk about coveting our neighbors things- GUILTY! I gave up on seeking perfection a long time ago. The chick leading worship, abstaining until marriage, going to church faithfully, writing verses on notecards (any one hear me out there?)…..those things provided me a foundation but by no means have enabled me to be "perfect." Too much pressure. Too much failure. Instead I hear His whisper saying, "Love for me. Hold others for me. Comfort on my behalf. LOVE THE ONES WHO DO NOT KNOW ME- with my genuine nature." And while it is not perfect, through and by His grace it is enough.

    Thank You God for providing your precious Son on my behalf- I wouldn't have made the cut!

  • Carolynmimi

    We were iced in this morning with church services across our area cancelled for safety reasons. Encouraged to worship at home, this devotional really spoke to me. I wrote notes to members of our congregation reminding them of the Unity of the Body of Christ whether together or separate physically WE are ONE by the power of the Holy Spirit. I chose to do these notes and to sign them after the cautions some of you raised, but I for one would open an anonymous handwritten note and would be thrilled to find encouraging words inside. I do believe that anonymous gifts be it objects or words can bless so that the giver and the gifted can treasure them in their hearts without any expectations or restrictions. BUT that is just me, so I chose to give full disclosure.

  • Great reminder today to move once again from striving to abiding, through confession of my failings and gratitude for His grace that takes me exactly as I am. Thanks for your study, Diana!

  • jesusgirl71

    Sisters, you don't know how much I needed to hear this today! I have recently had to cut ties with my current church, and I was feeling like god was mad at me and it is my fault. it really isn't. I won't go into it, but there are situations that we were going through that just were not healthy for us. I started reading Joyce Meyer's book today "god is Not Mad at You" because I feel it is something I need right now. So thanks for this devotion! Sisters, pray for me. With all my hornmonal issues and my asthma, my immune system is weaker than some, and there has been a virus going around the office. My throat is very raw and I am afraid I might have it now. praying it is just allergies or that it leaves me quickly. I know it's a small thing, but would appreciate prayers.

    • Kooks

      Praying for you friend!

    • AnnaLee

      You are not alone, as I've gone through the exact same thing. It hurts, and it was confusing at times; I was (and still sometimes am) falsely blaming myself for a lot of what went on socially with others, as well as struggling with agreeing to a lot of their church practices (which in the end, were not biblical and not where God wanted me at all). In general, I often succumb to self-condemnation and the critiques of others when it comes to my faith, so, when hearing of this, my heart went out to you. Though it's hard for me to believe for myself- I'm working on it- Christ LOVES us with a love that is bigger than us and everything we go through. Be wooed, comforted, and made calm by the love of the father, sister. He's right there with us. He will show us the way.
      PS- I guess I can count this as my encouragement letter, but I doubt I'll end here. :)
      Be blessed, friend! You are loved!

      • jesusgirl71

        thanks so much. Needed to see this this morning as the self-condemnation was starting again.

  • Stephanie

    I just wanted to say that I really loved today scripture and reflection. You ladies (writers and commenters) have become a part of my daily routine and a huge tool in helping me understand His word, his wants, and his plan for me. I have been following the SRT community since August, have never commented but now wanted to say thank you for all the work you do in producing these plans for us. Thank you!

  • Thanks be to God for his Indescribable Undeserved though Freely given gift of His Grace!

  • SarahJaneL

    Ladies, I'd like to request your prayers. Last night I was out with a friend I've known for 17 years. We met in high school where we attended a Catholic school together. She and I had very similar upbringings, coming from fairly religious families, attending church weekly. Yesterday, she informed me that she no longer believes in organized religion, stating she never really did, but only participated in church activities and followed the "rules" so as not to disappoint her parents. This is a completely 180 degree change for her, as she and her husband met in a church youth group in high school, got married in the church, and had started to raise her 2 young children in the church. She now says her children will not be raised in the church because she doesn't believe what the church teaches and she won't be able to honestly answer their questions when they're old enough to start asking about church teachings. I know their extended families are also very disappointed and hurt by this recent choice. Please pray for this young family that they may turn back to Christ, especially so that their children can grow up knowing the Lord.

  • I love love the idea of today’s advent action. ..

    It’s a selfless gesture for such a time as this..a lot of ppl are in pain and are enduring struggles, and ultimately encouragement anonymously not only gives them hope but I also see it as a way for the recipient to focus more on God and overcoming what they may be facing daily rather than the person who wrote it.

    Awesome Action!

  • This is such a great reminder. No matter how perfect we try to be, and no matter how many things we cross off our to do list, we are sinners. I am so thankful that my Lord sent his Son to rescue me. He rescues me daily, and it is only by his grace I’m alive and well. Praise be to God!! His grace is enough!

  • Janee White

    "Every day we fall. Every day we bite the fruit and deny Christ." What a great way to visualize it!

    God gave us the Law. But through Jesus, we have been given a choice. To either be set free from the Law of Sin and Death; or to live free through the Law of the Spirit which brings life.

    Spirit of Life? Law of Sin and Death? Its a no brainer for me. I pray today, I be set from from my 'fruit' addiction, and find the freedom of life found only in a Life governed by the Spirit.

  • I'm sorry but sending handwritten anonymous notes, no matter how well intended, should not be encouraged.

    • Carolynmimi

      Could you elaborate, JoJo?

      • jesusgirl71

        Well that is one thing I cannot do actually. meant to say that. Can't do handwriting except my signature as a blind person, and e-mails are much easier than trying to get someone to address an envelope for me. I cannot nor would I send an annonymous e-mail. That could be dangerous because I certainly wouldn't open one from someone. not sure I would open something handwritten that was annonymous either actually. in this day and age, how do you know it's not some kind of trap? I don't like to be cynical but I think I see her point and again, meant to mention I cannot do the action today. could send a note of encouragement to someone, which I think is the true point of this, but not annonymously.

        • Row.

          maybe send a little thank you note to your neighbor or someone who helps you in someway, maybe at a coffee shop, grocery store, library? bus driver? something like thank you for getting so many people safely where you want to go, God Bless you and yours this holiday season. I think it can be done, try to be positive and think of the good. you will make somebody's day.

          • Row.

            meant to write where "they" want to go : ) have a good day.

      • JoJo

        Sure thing. My partner and I have been the victim of a stalker (an ex partner). Anonymous messages, silent phone calls etc. and so now, if I don't recognise a number, I don't pick up the phone.

        Many years ago I received red roses on Valentine's day and I never found out who sent them – it gave me the creeps (seriously). I just think that no matter how good or supportive the intentiion, sending anonymous letters is not to be recommended. I've been on the end of well meant and vicious anonymous correspondence – neither brought me joy and so I would never advise anyone to do the same.

        • Carolynmimi

          I really feel where you are coming from, JoJo and can understand the "creepy" feeling. There are vicious people who can ruin a good thing for a lot of people. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Joanne Sher

    The law is a way of showing our love and gratitude – adore this!

  • Candacejo

    I have always loved that scripture "…not by WORKS, so that no one can BOAST." Truly God was thinking ahead! If it was a WORKS salvation we would be a bunch of show-offs! (And even now some think that's the way we earn our merit points.) Not that we shouldn't strive for perfection and certainly strive to be Christ-like! But thanks be to God it does not work that way!

    Grace-through faith-it is the GIFT of God! Amen!

    We serve Him because we LOVE Him, because HE first loved us! Thankful today for that perfect example, born in a manger, the King of Kings, God manifest in the flesh, Jesus Christ the Righteous!

    • Anonymous

      Good morning Candace! I just wanted to send you an note to encourage you today. May you find the answers, to un-prayed prayers. May you see the blessings, that may be hidden by lies. May you hear the Words of your Loving Father, telling you "Well done Daughther, my highly-favored, good and faithful servant".

      May today be the New beginning you have been seaking, and mark the end of what you have been praying for God to cease.

      God Bless You!
      Anonymous

      • Candacejo

        Thank you so much!! What a blessing today to receive these words of encouragement. God always knows just what we need, when we need it. Blessings dear friend. ♥

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