first things first: Thankful challenge: for skilled surgeons and good health care. post your “thankfuls” in the comments each day, or on FB and let’s create a wave of thankfulness! the day will go better… I promise!
Read Deuteronomy 4:1
Read Matthew 5:17-18
The first passage: is often called the Obedience passage. God tells the Israelites, His Beloved children, to OBEY Him.
Simple. Straightforward. Non-Negotiable.
The rest of Deut. 4 continues with God giving examples of what would happen when they were:
- obedient = good things/blessings
- disobedient = bad things/consequences
Parenting 101- right!
Even God takes the time to “make His case” and remind His wayward, stubborn, impatient, impetuous, and imperfect but beloved ones that it would be in their best interests to Obey Him.
(I am sure that I used this style of parenting often- “remember when..?? think about this or that before you make this choice to obey or disobey??” hmmm…not sure I realized at the time there was a lesson in it for me too!
And God follows through on what the says. And ultimately Israel, His beloved children live in the consequence of continual disobedience… (can we be honest and put ourselves in their category too? Yep. Okay.. then I can use “us & we” instead of “them”– those disobedient Israelites we would never act like!)
God’s love for us isn’t dependent on our choices to obey or disobey… God’s love for us is an IS!
read that again… and let it sink in:
God’s LOVE for you is and IS.
Final. Period. Unchangeable Truth!
In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus talks about having fulfilled All the Law, every ‘Jot and tiddle”
This refers to the vowel marking in the that accompany the Hebrew words and can actually add different nuances or even meaning to a word. Jesus was saying basically… I got it ALL covered! Been 100% obedient to God and thus became the perfect sacrifice for us.
(And if you have ever spent time in reading the Laws, there were A lot of them and they were very specific!)
So, the Law is fulfilled, we no longer have to live under fear of disobeying one of the little details we it. In Christ we live forgiven and free from the law.
Then what is Jesus talking about in His words that we are to “practice and keep these commandments?”
If we are free from the Law, what are we commanded to do?
This passage in Matthew sits right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, (Matt. 5-7) where Jesus speaks of and ushers in a new Kingdom, a New Way… a New Law…
the Law of Love.
- no long lists of do’s and don’ts,
- no checklists of good behavior
- so we can feel good about ourselves…puffed up like the Pharisees maybe?
NO – we have a higher standard!
the New law of Love
- outlined specifically by Jesus in (Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:20-49)
- modeled by Jesus
- written on our hearts…(Jer. 31:33; Hebrews 8:16, 10:13)
Jesus calls us to live according to the principles of Relationship
- with God
- with others
- with ourselves
empowered by the Indwelling Holy Spirit.
And that changes EVERYTHING!
We are free to engage in relationships, acts of love, service, kindness, obedience Because we are LOVED by God and long to Love like He does.
- We don’t have rule book to chick, we have a Person to connect with as ask for guidance, seek wisdom, whose Heart is for us , Whose Face is turned toward us in Unabashed Love!
- We can live with a sense of freedom and adventure as life becomes about our ongoing , deepening relationship with Christ and becoming more and more like Him in our love born obedience.
That excites me!
Jesus’ perfection and fulfillment of the Law was not in his keeping every jot and tiddle. Remember he healed (worked) on the Sabbath according to the rule keeping religious folks… I believe Jesus was perfect in His obedience and submission to everything the Father called Him to do, be, say, think…
Jesus lived in communion with God and according to the Law of Love perfectly.
Relationship… trumps Rules!
What feelings and thoughts does this stir in you?
As a card carrying member of the “rule following religious good girl” club, I felt pretty self-righteous at times. “I can get an A if you give me the formula God!” And with honest well-meaning determination, I spent spend years striving…
- sometime getting it right! a badge for my Pharisee vest!
- more often than not… getting it wrong and struggling with shame, contempt and why can’t I be/do better?
When I discovered that I had it all wrong, and it is ALL about the condition of my heart, I realized that even the check marks for rules followed to get the A with God were about me… and I was humbled.
this New law?!!–Sure its messier! Even harder at times, because we have to examine what is going on in our hearts, what is behind our actions, choices, rule following.
But what Freedom it brought me
- I stopped striving… (*okay… and still learning stop – or at least catch myself sooner)
- I stopped feeling so ashamed at my failures, stopped beating myself up (*see above)
- I felt sorrow, instead. And sought forgiveness and help from Jesus
- I focused on growing my relationship with Jesus, seeking to grow into Christ likeness.
- I began having ongoing conversations with God, about all that was going on in my day.
- I asked for guidance and was moved to love driven action or inaction by the indwelling Holy Spirit, not just rule based activity.
I started to live like I am LOVED… I found grace & help to live out the New Law of Love.
Big. Huge. Sigh. of. Relief.
You can too…
Jesus changed Everything!!
Relationship. Freedom. Forgiveness. Love.
Are you more of a rule follower?
What have you done with your own heart as you have succeed and failed in keeping rules?
- Does freedom in Christ to Live LOVED… excite you? frighten you? Why?
- Does it seem too easy?
Read the Sermon on the Mount again, and you will realize that ONLY in an ongoing, growing imitate, life-infusing relationship with Jesus -is it even possible to attempt to Live by the New Law!
What about you?
- Where have you experienced the freedom of Living Loved?
- Think of a time when you were guided by your relationship with Christ, moved to action or inaction by the Holy Spirit, rather than by Rules. What was it like?
Of course we will mess up… probably more than when we were rule followers, but that is not the point. Our motives will be heart led, Spirit led, not pride and performance led.
It won’t be about us… it will be about Loving, serving and obeying God…
That’s why we NEED Jesus!
Read the accounts of the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6:20-49
- Outline all that Jesus says about the Love being the plumb line.
- Look at the contrast between rules and motive our hearts as the deciding factor of our righteousness.
Read the passages about the New Law being written on our hearts. (Jer. 31:33; Hebrews 8:16, 10:13)
- What does this mean personally to you?
Go back and answer any of the questions you skimmed over in the first read through.
How do this devotional and the deeper look into these verses change your thinking about, the Law, righteousness and obedience?
Post a comment on the blog site about something you learned, pondered, experienced related to this concept that would encourage another journeyer
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20; Matthew 5:17-19
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 22: Acts 7-11