Advent 2017: Joy to the World: Day 10

Righteousness Through Christ


Today's Text: Romans 3:21-28, John 1:1-5, John 1:14-18, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:13-14

Scripture Reading: Romans 3:21-28, John 1:1-5, John 1:14-18, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:13-14

We have certain standards when it comes to building a fire. My husband likes to construct architectural log cabins from carefully chosen twigs, before solemnly striking his single match. I like to balance a cedar bark teepee and throw a spark in a tiny nest of dry grass in the middle. We also put a lot of value on the quantity of matches used. Zero is obviously the ideal number, and six is just sloppy recklessness.

Since the weather has turned cold, we’ve been inspired to use our fire-building skills to burn out an old stump. Some people might hire a professionals to come out and grind, pull, or cut the stump down to the ground. Not us. We were determined to burn it.

At first, I lovingly carried a hot coal from another fire and set it down into the woody center. It created a perfect, simple fire, and I celebrated my cleverness and thrift. Three all-day fires later, the stump is shorter, blacker, and chastened, but it’s still not gone. I’ve also started kicking the stump. It was less fun for the fires to be about utility rather than art.

Yesterday I lit a fire at the stump using not a flint and a pile of magnesium shavings, but one of those shady fuel-soaked fire-starting sticks that will burn no matter who you are, regardless of your ideals, and in defiance of the wind direction. I held the object close to my leg as I walked past my husband, so he wouldn’t see, but I smiled because I’d found them in the house—and I know I’m not the one who bought them.

We can take pride in anything. The do-it-yourself mentality doesn’t begin or end with fire-building prowess. It runs through and through, and we’re always looking for a way to accomplish something boast-worthy. When we’ve got nothing to boast of, we’ll invent it, or take pride in the most mundane oddities. Have you ever driven a car full of seven-year-olds? They boast about who saw the truck first, and who has eaten their popsicle the fastest. We hardly know what a world without boasting is like.

Paul writes: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded” (Romans 3:27). Indeed, we learn that God shows gracious “restraint,” passing over our sinful shortcomings, for the sake of Christ. Like little children, what we are and all we have is given freely, showered on us by One who has sacrificed Himself on our behalf.  He is both the art and the utility. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

There is no do-it-yourself version to salvation. The righteousness we receive is not native to us. It is “His righteousness,” given by His grace. We don’t achieve righteousness by some show of skill or cunning or willpower. It is given, heaped upon us and unmerited.

We don’t have to give up the good things that delight us: we are made to create and to strive for goodness. I, for one, will continue to both compete and hide from my husband when it comes to making wilderness-worthy fires. We can delight and boast in Christ’s righteousness, learning more and more each day to rejoice in His deeds and not our own because in Him is life, and that life is the light of men (John 1:4).


  • Betty Packer


  • Kristen Hodge

    God is sooooo awesome!!!

  • There is no do-it-yourself version of salvation. Amen! ♡ this

  • This hit hard. For all the over achievers out there, this one was for us!
    Boy, there’s so much rest in just accepting his grace instead of trying to earn it. Accepting this is an everyday decision for me!
    God bless you all, merry Christmas!!

  • Elizabeth

    Such a great and freeing post. Loving this Advent study, and the reminder that His sacrifice is the ultimate gift. <3

  • Kari LynKolstadLeslie

    I thought that was odd too.

  • “we’re always looking for a way to accomplish something boast-worthy.”
    I needed to be called out on this. Thank you.

  • This is such a great riminder! Challenged to boast in Him alone! And to start a campfire. ;)

  • Cheyenne SkyeHolton

    I am new to this study and I am loving how beautifully everything is written but I would be so grateful for any guidance and understanding anyone could share with me.

  • Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, Savior and Lord. During this season in my life I am going through brokenness. I surrender All to Jesus. I give it all to him from someone who has been so self-sufficient. I need his help, his guidance. You lead Lord as I follow. If you read this I would love to have your prayers that I will submit and humble myself to God. Thank you

    • Allie

      Yes Falecia! Many prayers for you. “For from his fullness, we have all received grace upon grace”. God bless!

    • Melisse

      Sending prayers Falecia! Remember, God is bigger than anything we encounter. He has you and He loves you dearly! Sending love and Christmas greetings!

  • Churchmouse

    In Him we have redemption. No other. Him alone. Give up trying to do it yourself. Perfectionism is futile. Just give it up. And give in to Jesus. His arms are open. His love is deep. His forgiveness waits. Don’t you.

    • Akua-Sodio Flanagan

      Give in and give up! Perfection is futile! You got that right, then why can’t I just left go. Thank you for your insight churchmouse I enjoy reading your comments.

  • Cyndi Farrare

    While reading these passages today something Carlos Whittaker says kept coming to mind. “God is the hero of our story, not us!” This has stuck with me, and reminds me to stop trying to be the hero in my own story or in the story of others. God is all powerful, loving, and can be trusted to work out every detail for our good and HIS GLORY! Rest in Him alone, he’s got this!

    • Melisse

      Well said! Love the motto, “God is the hero of our story, not us”. I’m going to have to remember that. Thank you for sharing!

  • “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

    I love the deep truth in those words. It reminds me of Jesus when he says “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter how deep the darkness seems, or how difficult the struggle, Jesus has overcome the world. No darkness can overcome His light. And that brings me so much comfort.

    • Charlotte

      I chose to journal on this verse as well! The darkness is not gone. It can surround us at times. But we have the light of men to turn to, to guide us, in the middle of the darkness. May we always remember to turn to Him when feeling overwhelmed!

  • Jude Hardy

    Having read this I feel liberated!

  • Idalia Luna

    Thank you Christ for your redemption. That your love and grace is freely given.

  • PronetoWander

    I love the word and idea behind “lavishly” that he bestows mercy on us lavishly. To me this is a word that creates a picture in my mind of a King heaping loads of fine silk and jewelry in someone’s arms. Someone undeserving arms. No matter how much we sin he “lavishly” gives us more mercy.

  • I must remind myself that there is no tally sheet of all the deeds done good to earn redemption. I am redeemed in Him && will remember to humbly accept His grace & love!!

  • So I think I mentioned to you all a week or two ago how I had this witnessing assignment where we were supposed to share the Gospel with someone. My roommate and I talked with a girl on our hall, but she was very closed off and said she did not want to talk about it. I still wrote my report on our conversation. Yesterday, one of the student teachers emailed me asking how much I shared compared to my roommate, and I said that she did more, but I did talk with Kristina (the girl we talked with), but I did not want to push it because she said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. So the TA responded that that wasn’t enough and that I should have talked more in the conversation. She said that I have til Thursday to redo the assignment. So I was really frustrated about this, because I don’t understand how she could say I should have talked more when Kristina said she did not want to. That’s what really made me mad. We shouldn’t force people to talk with us. And we shouldn’t have to share the gospel because of an assignment. Also, I have a chemistry final exam on thursday. Sorry to rant, would really just appreciate prayers for this, that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed and that I would be able to talk with Kristina again or find someone at Starbucks to pay for their drink and share the gospel with or something.

    • PronetoWander

      I personally think you are in the right. Being kind and respectful to someone is more of statement of Christ’s love than bombarding them with information especially after the said to stop. I think you’re right and building a relationship will do more than just words.

    • Allie Smith

      Yes, you are right. Please, please don’t seek Kristina out to talk about the gospel right away. Instead, build a relationship with her and weave Christ into your every day conversations. Don’t let it be about a class assignment, or she will know. Be willing to take a lower grade for this…please. And talk to your teacher and explain respectfully that you understand the heart behind the assignment, but that a long term relationship w/Kristina with the goal of loving her and sharing the gospel through every day conversation is more important than an assignment. You are right to feel frustrated; this is an instance where it’s ok to push back on expectations. Praying for you!

    • Patrice

      Accept the challenge, and pray and ask God for a beautiful opportunity. What you have to share brings LIFE.

    • Churchmouse

      How would you feel if you found out that the reason someone insistently shoved the Gospel at you was to fulfill a school assignment? Then ask yourself how you would feel if you found out that your friend respectfully developed a relationship with you where you felt comfortable asking her about spiritual matters and she gave you thoughtful answers? What does your answer to these two questions reveal? And which scenario might turn someone off to Christianity and which one might be enticing? Just some things to consider.

    • JennyBC

      I️ think these ladies have given you the follow up to your paper. Relationship precedes our right to share the gospel (even as an assignment). You honored your friend by listening to her. As you continue to be her friend and hear her heart trust that you will earn the right to be heard and then the Gospel message will have deep roots. Praying for you. Build your case on what you e learned. Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have.

    • Alisha

      Just wanted to say that something similar happened to me but I was in Kristina’s shoes. I had a friend who I became close with in college but she believed in a very different religion. One that we are all familiar with and they are very pushy about trying to get you in the door. I constantly felt like I was having to defend my own beliefs every time we talked about religion, which of course she brought up all the time. She also gave my phone number to other people at her church to try and reach out to me. I FELT like an assignment. We didn’t stay close and I would have respected her a lot more and valued our friendship if she would have respected my beliefs. Follow your heart here. Find another soul to speak with <3

  • Trinity Jensen

    “We don’t achieve righteousness, it is given to us.” It’s a hard concept to remember. It’s so easy to fall into a works mentality. I need to post this quote on my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning & remind myself to be humble & thankful before the Lord.

  • Rebecca, what a fun devotion!! We too have a stump burning at all times — my husband builds fires with flint and steel!! We attempt to live simply– to honor God!!

  • He has rescued me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of the Son He loves (my paraphrase). Colossians 1:13

    Praise be to God!

  • Ashlee Hyatt

    Hello ladies, I don’t believe I have ever posted before, but this season of Advent my family is split. Hurtful words have been spoken, and feelings have been hurt from words spoken in truth and love. Please pray that God will shine his light in this situation, as I believe He is the only one who can change hearts and minds.

    • Micahlee

      Praying for you this morning Ashlee

    • Molly

      Hi Ashlee, I’m so sorry your family is split at this time. I’ve had times like that in my family, and it’s heart wrenching. I pray that God will bring restoration of relationships to your family, and for hope and joy for you in the midst of it. I, too, believe God miraculously changes hearts and minds.

    • Melissa

      Hi Ashlee, I have no clue what your circumstances are but the Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness teaches a lot about how to handle conflict and disagreement. Might be helpful in this hard hurtful time to provide a different mindset. Peace and love to you!

    • Blinn

      I am right there with you, Ashlee. Hurtful words have begun to be a daily thing for our family. Its almost like everyone has forgotten how to love. They boast about everything which usually means they are pointing out a fault with someone else. So many hurtful words. I tend to just ignore everyone. Praying for you family as I pray for mine.

    • Natalie

      Just prayed for your family, that hearts can be softened. That each one will look to the other’s needs and not their own desires. I pray that each family member can be optimistic about the other’s intentions, assume good over evil.

    • Churchmouse

      Praying for restoration and forgiveness for your family

  • We live in Utah, lone Christians among my precious Mormon neighbors who strive for impossible perfection. I long to live this message to them daily, to shine the freedom that comes with His grace that is lavished on us. Jesus alone brings salvation. Every day of the Advent season I am in awe that the God of the Universe came for me.

    • Allison

      Della, I have prayed for you and your mission this morning. I pray that in you they will see the freedom of living in Christ and be drawn to the joy that streams through you in Him. God bless you.

    • Elizabeth Santelmann

      Praying for you too! I have a couple Morman girls in my Bible study. I’ll try to pray for you every time I’m in prayer for them!

  • Crystal Mendez

    What a beautiful thing it is to not have to compete for the love and grace of God!

  • Sarah Hoke

    I constantly have to remember to humbly accept God’s grace completely undeserved, so I cannot boast. It is so much easier to keep track in my heart and mind of all the “good” I’ve done and feel my relationship with God to be earned or deserved based on my deeds. It’s really all about control. To accept grace is to surrender and to not try to control God.

    • Emily B.

      That’s so true! I am guilty of having the same attitude. Thank you for sharing this truth!

  • Praying for you Carolyn. I can relate in a similar way with currently being separated. Living without fear and remembering Grace and Forgiveness as a gift for ourselves and others is so rich. Its the deepest love. It is daily we have to wake up and decide to even love ourselves with the divine love God has for us. What a great devotional. Thank You all for the strength here..and the reminder.

  • Karen From Virginia

    Rejoicing in Redemption. By Faith alone. Through Grace Alone.

  • I downloaded the new SRT app and it seems that not all the comments are visible in the app. Right now only two comments are showing up, but when I go to the SRT site I can see there are more. Not sure why this is happening, but I miss being able to see all the comments right in the app.

    • Barbara

      Kristi, scroll up, not down. You should see more comments. Hope it works! Have a great day!

      • Kristi

        Barbara, thanks for your reply! I have scrolled up and down, but there are only two comments visible in the app. I think there must be some kind of glitch with the update.

  • I need to be reminded of the forgiveness of Christ every day. Not only because He saved us, but because I look to Him as an example of how to treat the people in my life. I say to myself, “Christ died to show us how it can be done, how we can forgive to our very core.” And I thank God for His sacrifice, for showing me that nobody has to do a single act to earn my love or forgiveness. My heart is so much bigger now that I try to practice unconditional love. This is so much a part of advent for me, the reason I truly celebrate the birth of Christ, our Saviour and ultimate teacher.

    • CarolynJ

      “And I thank God for His sacrifice, for showing me that nobody has to do a single act to earn my love or forgiveness.”

      Thank you for this truth. God knows how to reach me right where I am. I haven’t been on this website for over a week, yet today I’m drawn to it just to see this piece of truth you’ve shown me. It’s a hard truth I’m struggling with of late, since my husband and I separated a couple weeks ago. We are back together and working on things, and God is doing a tremendous healing in me and our marriage. The one thing I keep saying is “I’m just so afraid of being hurt again.” Truth is, I can’t prevent that from happening this side of heaven. AND, the other truth is, my husband shouldn’t have to work to earn my forgiveness. Or my love. I’ve been awful about that. God forgive me. I work in a profession where I adamantly believe in and practice unconditional positive regard for others. But I struggle with this so much in my own circle. God help me understand. Help me love in your way. Help me love unconditionally. Without conditions. Without stipulations. Without fear.

      Thank you father for your word and your peace and your unconditional unmerited love and favor.

      • Stacy

        I’m praying for you Carolyn and rejoicing in what God is revealing to you!

      • Heather

        Praying for peace and healing for you. Perhaps forgiveness should be given freely as our Father in Heaven has blessed us with—but earthly trust is earned. Don’t be too hard on yourself—you are doing great things through your faith and love.

      • Ashley

        Praying for you CarolynJ and your husband. May God heal and bless your marriage. I know from experience that if both people are seeking God in their marriage, forgiveness can bring about a beautiful thing. It takes so much work but it is so worth it.

      • Kay

        Carolyn, I too work in a profession that demands unconditional love for my clients. It is so much easier to give to them than to the people who are closest to me…including myself. I am praying for your marriage and I am so glad you read this devotional!

    • songbird

      Thanks for this. I shall need to try and apply this unconditional love too. Lots of students in school and some are a little easier to be patient and kind to…

  • I love that righteousness is “heaped” upon us. It’s just so much righteousness we can’t even come close to accomplishing it without Christ standing in our place.

    • Donna Symes

      That word “heaped” caught my eye too. We cannot imagine how big our God is and how much He has for us. He is not selfish.

    • Anna

      That word heaped stood out to me as well! Righteousness is not just handed to us or given to us at the bare minimum level, but is heaped upon us! How wonderful :)

  • Ruth Gemin

    The law (which learns us what God asks from us) was given through Moses. Through Jesus Christ came Gods love, kindness, goodness and thruth to us. Which learns us to see Who He is. Thank you Lord, for giving us the grace to know You more and build a relationship with You.

  • I am enjoying this advent Study. I also bought the study book for myself and my mother. I’m curious why these synopses aren’t included in the book? It’s been a real chore sharing these each day with my elderly not so tech savvy mother. Perhaps they could be included in the future. It seems all I am paying for in the study is the scripture when I have a Bible for that. I may just pay the 1.99 for the study on the app in the future. Rambling done. Thanks.

    • Elisabeth7291

      I don’t think they are ever included. I would imagine it is because of the lead time necessary to print the books. I bought one study book but didn’t feel it added much, and indeed wasn’t even as meaningful because it didn’t include the devotional. I don’t see myself buying one again.

      • Mel

        I lovingly disagree. I did the advent study last year via the study book and it was amazing. There was plenty of additional material included, such as background and timelines even. While I enjoy the community type aspect of the app and reading the devotionals and quips and anecdotes as much as the next gal, it was richer, for me, to make meaning of God’s Word using only God’s Word: such is a discipline we should cultivate and pass on to the next generation so that they are able to read truth and not rely so heavily on others to tell them what is truth.

        • Mel

          And all that said, I do appreciate everything the writers do and all of the material available through srt; it truly is an invaluable site and organization. Perhaps the study guides are geared more toward different types of learners than the devotionals and that’s something we can keep in mind as well.

    • Holly

      I feel the same, and would also love some questions to ponder and reflect on in future advent books. Just a wish list!

    • Heather

      Me too! I was disappointed when I got the book that it didn’t include the devotions. I enjoy the app-but I love a good book in my hands where I can journal and highlight and review.

    • Rachel

      Each study is different. I did the Romans study this summer and it had group questions, recipes, weekly songs, etc. but yes some books are just the scripture – you have to read all the fine print in the description before you purchase to know what you are getting. This is why I’m very selective about which ones I buy.

    • Amy Rosselli


    • Brenda

      Ditto. I’ve stopped buying the books. Which is sad, because they’re beautiful. But I was paying $25 for scripture passages, and then extra money for the devotionals on my app. And I don’t need the “extras” — recipes, song lyrics, etc. They’re fun, but I don’t use them to study scripture. Nevertheless, I love SRT and the heart and vision behind it.

    • L

      I do wish there was some way to download the study questions and additional content without ordering a book

    • Sharon

      I completely agree. I love the study books, and have used them for the past three years, but they feel incomplete without the devotionals. I feel if you buy a book, the online component should come with it!

    • Beth Robinson

      I agree. I don’t mind paying the $1.99, but I expected when I purchased the book that it would include everything.

      • Rosie

        yes!! the parables study book looks good. but I didn’t pay nearly $40 Aus for a book with scripture and some lined pages. I also got hubby the he book and he has said similar things!

    • Cait

      That’s why I stopped buying the books and am just doing the $1.99 app – you get a lot more!

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