By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

The 10 Commandments and Christmas December 15, 2008

A few weeks ago, we studied the 10 Commandments in BSF.  Since I have been a Christian for a long time, I am pretty familiar with the 10 Commandments.  I have also studied Jesus’ explanation of some of the commandments in Matthew 5, which points out that these commandments are not just about our external behavior, but also about our heart attitudes.  But this time around, I was even more convicted about different ways in which I break the 10 Commandments, and how meditating on the 10 Commandments at this time of year emphasizes the importance of the work Christ came to do for me.

I would challenge anyone to convince me that they have kept the 10 Commandments.  I’ve certainly broken all of them:  I have put other people and things before God, I have failed to worship God rightly, I have misused His name, I have failed to keep the Sabbath day holy, I have definitely dishonored my father and mother (hello, adolescence!–and beyond), I have hated others, lusted, taken what does not belong to me, lied, and coveted.  Even if you set aside Jesus’ discussion of some of these commandments and take them all purely at face value (e.g., believing that if you have not murdered someone or bowed down to a golden idol, you have not broken those 2 commandments), you have admit–that 10th commandment about not coveting anything that belongs to your neighbor has got you, doesn’t it?

I have heard some Christians say that the 10 Commandments do not apply to us.  They are from the Old Testament, the old covenant–now we are under grace, not under the law.  I disagree.  Jesus said, ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).  And so if God requires us to keep the 10 Commandments, and if we all have to admit we haven’t done it, then we have a problem.

However, God, in His goodness and grace, not only gives us His law, but He is the one to remedy the situation when we fail to keep it.  God became man and dwelt among us, not only to teach us and heal us, but to live the perfect life that we could not live.  We cannot keep these commandments; Jesus Christ kept them perfectly, and He bore the punishment for our law-breaking on our behalf.  This truth gives us just one more reason to rejoice this Christmas!  Christ came to die for us, and He also came to live for us, to keep the law perfectly for us.

I think this is also an important point to teach our children.  When they sin, we can remind them of the One who was without sin.  Jesus obeyed His parents perfectly.  Jesus did not sin in His anger.  (I wish the Bible told us that Jesus ate his peas, it would really help me out!)  His perfection qualified Him to pay the penalty for our children’s disobedience, and it is important for them to understand that.  The baby Jesus was born to die for them, and also to live for them.  Their obedience should not be motivated by Santa’s list or by an elf on the shelf (no offense to those of you with elves on your shelves), but by gratitude to God for what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.  O come let us adore Him!


Christmast Gift Idea December 5, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 6:59 am
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I recently wrote a post about the new Seeds Music CD, “The Power of Encouragement.”  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Seeds, they are Scripture verses set to music, and they are done very well.  I have their “Faith” and “Praise” CD’s as well, and my kids and I love them!  The music is catchy, and my kids have learned so much Scripture from these CD’s. Listen to some of the music on their website, and you will see that these are not your typical children’s music CD’s.

The new “Encouragement” CD is on sale through December 13!  You get TWO copies–one to keep and one to give away–for just $10 plus shipping.  Just enter the code “GIVESEEDS08” at checkout.  I recommend picking up some of the other CD’s while you’re there.  I’m thinking about buying some to give my kids’ teachers to play in the classroom.

Here’s what you need to check it out:

The Seeds Music website

The Seeds Music store


Thou shall not covet December 2, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 7:38 pm
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“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”            Exodus 20:17

We recently studied the 10 Commandments in BSF (more to come on that later), and one that I was particularly struck by is the tenth commandment.  My struggles with materialism and discontentment are well-documented on this blog, and I know covetousness is a temptation for me.  When I was studying this commandment again, I started to think about what positive thoughts or actions should replace the sinful ones.  That is, what thoughts should replace the sinful thought of coveting my neighbor’s house?  (Or shoes.  Or purse.  I manage not to covet my neighbor’s donkeys, but I do covet their cleaning leady.)

I started to wonder what it would be like if, instead of feeling envy and discontentment, I could, by the power of the Holy Spirit, actually be happy for someone who has something I wish I had.  Because to be honest with you, it has been a long time since I’ve walked into a lavish home and thought about how happy I am for the person who lives there.  I know it will not come naturally to me, but it seems like a good way to battle covetousness.

God gave me an opportunity recently to apply this new lesson.  I was visiting the home of a friend, and another friend warned me ahead of time that I should be prepared to envy her Christmas decorations.  On the way to my friend’s home, I prayed and thanked God for my home and the Christmas decorations He has provided for me.  (It sounds silly, but I really like Christmas decorations.)  I prayed that I would be able to admire my friend’s decorations and sincerely be happy for her.  And, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I had a wonderful time in her home and was able to enjoy her beautiful decorations in a much more joyful way.

So thank you to my friend who warned me about the upcoming temptation . . . and for those of you who see me regularly, could you please warn me when you have a fabulous new purse, adorable shoes, or new furniture, so I can properly prepare my heart not to envy you?  I’m on the remedial track and need advance warning!