Boundaries

When I was younger, I loved to push the limit and see how close to the line I could come. I used to resent boundaries and consider them a challenge to overtake. Can you relate? Amazingly enough, I have kids who do the very same thing. It must be a part of that sinful, human nature.

I have learned many difficult lessons in life because I overstepped boundaries, didn’t enforce boundaries, and ignored boundaries. I am still learning, often the hard way. Boundaries are important in marriage, parenting, friendships, work relationships and are more than just a benefit.

Boundaries are a blessing.

Consider that God has placed boundaries around you for your protection–He tells you to stay away from certain things so you will be pure. God wants you to be safe from sin and danger and He helps you to do that by telling you things to avoid. He wants you to heed His words, for your blessing and benefit.

And wouldn’t it be great if we had no boundaries for God?
Allowed Him access to every dark corner of our lives?
Recognized that He supersedes physical boundaries by being omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent?

Psalm 16

1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God’s boundaries are good!

Marriages

Ever have an issue with a toilet? Sometimes you plunge it out and that’s all that was really needed. But sometimes, you find yourself dealing with a particular issue frequently. If you are fortunate to have another toilet in your house, you try to ignore the one with the issue and direct family/guests to use a different one. But the day will come when you will have to deal with it. Maybe you’ll need to snake it or call in the big dogs and get it Roto-Rootered out to the street. Maybe you’ll mistakenly break the seal or when you go to pull the toilet, you’ll crack it or find the underlayment is rotten which means you’ll need to pull up the floor. It might be a bigger job than originally thought, but it really just needs to be done.

So, what does all this have to do with marriages? You might be able to make some connections. Whether or not you are not married, you surely know someone who is, maybe even someone who has come to you needing a sounding board. As you think about the issue of marriage, ask God to bless and heal those marriages that come to mind. Tell those who have come to you seeking counsel for their marriage that you are praying for healing in their marriage and encourage them to do the same. While it takes two to really work, sometimes only one person is actively working on the improvement of relationship because the other one is too hurt to be vulnerable again. Broken trust is hard to regain, but not impossible and it takes a lot of time, patience, prayer, and intentional work. No marriage can be fully and truly healed without God’s intervention.

Lord, give me the strength to consider the wrongs I have done in relationships and move me to a place of true repentance. As I experience Your forgiveness, help me to share that forgiveness with others. In You Son’s Name, Amen.

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.  Psalm 86:11 NIV

Waiting (is the hardest part)

Have you ever had a day (or a season) when the future looked very uncertain and you were called to wait for an answer and you waited, and waited, and waited? The waiting felt terminal–with many things hinging upon that one answer.

Here are some things that I have found helpful–

  • find a couple of Bible verses that communicate God’s promises–memorize them.
  • review your life, what has God done for you in the past? Remember His provisions and repeat them. It does help to recall His previous provisions.
  • let God change the course of your life. There are times when we are convinced we have a plan and it isn’t necessarily the direction God would like us to go. Remember, we are the clay–He is the Potter! Sometimes God wants you to give up your job, your house, the community you live in.
  • Stay in God’s Word! Satan wants to steal your courage…surround yourself with God’s promises.

Here is a great Psalm! What words stand out for you?

Psalm 145 (NIV)

A psalm of praise. Of David.

1 [a] I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.  2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works. [b]
6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD;
your saints will extol you.
11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made. [c]
14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

If you are struggling as you wait, hang on….He is with you…

Setbacks

“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown

Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her.  This sin took her on an ugly journey.

Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:

  • Confess
  • Seek Forgiveness
  • Have an accountability partner
  • Surround yourself with Scripture
  • Pray
  • Change your scenery or routine
  • Forgive yourself

Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.

As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?

Thirst

O God, you are my God, I earnestly seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Don’t you just love how God uses a common experience to relate to us? These kinds of verses really help the Bible come alive for me.

I have been thirsty before…have you? Sometimes I have contemplated compromising what I know to be right just to get the thirst quenched. That beautiful babbling stream coming from the mountain? It looks refreshing. It sounds refreshing. Do you have any idea unhealthy or dangerous microorganisms or dangerous chemicals that could be in there? Not unless you have a water testing kit.

Sometimes we are so desperate to have a need or a desire or a thirst quenched, we will drink anything…and that decision can be deadly.

Earnestly seek God on the matters of your heart. Prayer is always a great starting point. If you find yourself in a difficult place, definitely start with prayer. Then open your Bible and see what God has revealed about Himself. What does His Word say in relationship to your struggle? If your exact situation isn’t in Scripture, how can you apply what you know about the character of God?

Earnestly seeking God would be committing time and focus on Him. Quality time. Quantity time. Is there something that you might need to consider giving up for a time in order to truly seek God’s heart on a matter?

If you get a chance, finish the rest of Psalm 63.

Yield ~ Give Way

We most often see the term yield in reference to driving on an on-ramp or at an intersection where we must ‘give way’ to another vehicle. Some countries use the phrase “give way”.

Give Way. I like it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those types of signs would pop up during relationships?

  • You are about to make a strong point with your spouse or friend, teetering on the edge of really saying something hurtful and a yield sign pops up to remind you to give way to a better way of speaking.
  • You are about to make a direction change in your life that requires some other pieces to fall into place and instead of going “full-speed ahead”, a yield sign pops up and warns you to let something else come first.
  • You are busy telling Go your life plans and He calls you to yield to Him one step at a time.

There are many times you will find yourself in situations calling for you to submit, consent, surrender or accept. Sometimes God is the one requiring that of you.

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Joshua 24: 23 NIV

Those “foreign” gods can really worm their way into my heart and mind. I find it unfortunately easy for other desires and distractions to move into first place. That is a clear indication that I haven’t been yielding to God’s wisdom and way.

Are there areas in your life God is asking you to yield for a season?

Pondering takes Time

Ponder: 1: to weigh in the mind 2: to deliberate about 3: to muse over, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply. Webster, 1965.

With all of the communication and noise and business of the day, we actually have to be intentional about pondering anything. It seems like we don’t have any time. But it is important to set aside time to ponder, particularly the things of God. I have included several Bible verses to get you started though you may already have some you are in the midst of pondering. Write them on an index card and keep them close by so if you have a moment to think, they might be available to you. I chose the New International Version but feel free to look at several translations to get a larger sense of the meaning of the passage. This is all a part of the pondering process.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-5 NIV

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19 NIV

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:2 NIV

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:5-9 NIV

Ponder. Savor. Mull it over. Let God imprint it on your heart. How might God be speaking to you today through His Word?

One of my favorite things about God is when I am reading a Bible passage I have read a bunch of times and a word or phrase strikes me… it’s as if God bolded it to get my attention.  That doesn’t always happen, but there are times it does. And if I am in a hurry or I am tackling Scripture like a job, I can easily breeze by those words or phrases He just might want me to ponder.

Is there a particular verse you have pondered and would recommend to others? Please consider adding it as a comment to this post. There is so much wisdom in Scripture it is often hard to find a starting point. Sharing Scripture is a way to cement it in your mind as well as encourage a fellow traveler on the journey!