During this week, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages to prepare our hearts for the coming New Year.
Failure and sin are familiar to everyone. We all know what it is like to resolve to do better and come up short. For some, it can be a vicious cycle of hope, effort, and despair. But no matter how much we have tried and failed, very few of us know the humiliation and horror of our failures being on display for all of our neighbors.
- How have you failed at keeping a New Year’s resolution or another attempt to better your life or character? What was that like for you?
READ THE WORD: JOHN 8:2-11 (ESV)
2 Early in the morning [Jesus] came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
Jesus was the only one in this hostile crowd qualified to have thrown the first stone, yet in kindness and mercy he withheld condemnation. He also went a step further. “Go, and from now on sin no more,” he said. It was more than a mere command. It was not just a declaration of expectation. Rather, for this disgraced and outcast woman, Jesus’ words served as a fresh start. Jesus offered a new beginning.
For many, January first is a day of new beginnings. People hope that the trials and failures of the past will be made different by the future. But there is no better fresh start than with the grace of God.
If you have faith, you can step into this new year with joy that all the failures and sins of the past have been dealt with by the power and work of Jesus. He has forgiven you once and for all. So, lean into this new year with renewed resolve to put your hope in the one and only thing that will never fail you—God’s love.
For Prayer and Reflection:
- Spend some time thanking God for his mercy and grace that has covered every failure, every sin, every mistake, and every loss of the past year.
- Consider the year ahead of you in light of these verses from Psalm 103, and thank God for his amazing character and mercy.
Psalm 103:8-138 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.