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Posts Tagged ‘boundaries’

Moral Excellence

January 24th, 2015

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue [moral excellence].” 2 Peter 1:5 NKJV.

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Moral excellence is non-negotiable with God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “moral excellence.”

Morality touches every area of your life, expressing both your public and private life and evidencing who you are as well as what you say or do. The roots of personal morality are the invaluable qualities of integrity, such as exemplary character and chaste conduct – being truthful, generous, unselfish, trustworthy, just, and other such uncommon qualities. For every Christ-follower, those must be non-negotiable. See Ephesians 5:3-6 NIV. Paul was clear, “That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness.” Read Philippians 1:9-11. Moral excellence is the normal standard for the Kingdom of God and its citizens.

In one practical area of moral excellence, the more prominent majority neither aligns itself with God’s Word nor acknowledges the evident debris of hearts and homes such disregard produces. The Bible is explicit, ”It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable . . For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”  Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NIV. This is one of those sections of Scripture that some prefer to rationalize, or dismiss all together.

There are unscrupulous profiteers who pander to an appetite for sexual stimulation, ambiguity, and exploitation. God is not against sexuality, nor afraid of yours. It was His creation, not Adam’s. Therefore, God knows best how it works to bless and enrich lives with profound pleasure rather than pain, and bind hearts together not break them carelessly. “Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord . . flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against their own body . . . or do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . . you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:13/18-20.

The record plainly shows that sexual involvement before the bonds of marriage or outside the bounds of marriage weakens the fabric of mutual commitment and increases the likelihood of later unfaithfulness, or even divorce. When a person chooses to exempt themselves from God’s intent and design for physical intimacy, there are inevitable consequences. When God’s Word is ignored, He is dishonored, His heart broken, and your future is diminished.

The sum of the matter is this: in love, God established both clear boundaries for moral purity and strong bonds for moral excellence. “Be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust . . giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue [moral excellence] . . self-control . . Godliness . . For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted. . and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Read 2 Peter 1:4-11.

Anyone at any time can settle for something less than excellence in any area of life, but not without personal expenditure. Moral excellence is non-negotiable with God. Indulging yourself and involving another in something other than moral excellence comes at a terrible price, both to the human heart naturally and to one’s soul spiritually. See Galatians 6:7-9 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is that a momentary indulgence not be your disregard of an eternal reality.

(Bible verses are NKJV unless noted)

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Achieving Your Potential

November 4th, 2014

“Stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV.

Spiritual disciplines determine spiritual potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “achieving your potential.”

Your innate desire to be more than you have been is from God. You have a God-given potential to become more than you have imagined. Boundaries are limits imposed by yourself or others. You were created “in the image and likeness of God.” Imagine the potential, presently and eternally, that God has invested in you. The only uncertainty is whether you will recognize and realize the divine potential within you. When you think of “achieving your potential,” what do you envision? Your capabilities will likely be more than your accomplishments.

Recognition of potential is the prerequisite for achieving potential. Paul described Godly potential this way: “That you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV. Do those words – “standing firm . . mature . . fully assured” – describe you? They can. Achieving your potential does not just happen; the process requires purpose and priority, as well as sacrifice. And add patience, perseverance, and obedience to that list. Your full potential, being “mature and fully assured,” rests upon your priority and practice of living fully within the will of God.

Spiritual maturity is the pathway to your potential. “. . that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 NIV. Maturity is not measured by comparison with others. Paul warned of those who, “. . measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. Jesus is the only adequate and accurate standard for comparison. Not only is Jesus the standard by which you will be measured, He is the willing accomplice for all of your spiritual accomplishment.

Spiritual maturity is the goal; becoming like Jesus is the process. Be patient; your spiritual potential is achieved progressively in a process that is lifelong. “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT. In the simplest of terms, spiritual maturity can be described as Christ-likeness. See Romans 8:28. There is very good news about this process. John wrote, “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Read 1 John 3:1-3 NIV. Usually, we seem unclear as to the practical implications of Christ-likeness. Here is a useful, practical definition that has helped me. “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” In every circumstance, a good question to ask is, “What would Jesus do?”  Your natural tendencies do not lend themselves to spiritual achievement.

Spiritual disciplines govern spiritual potential. (1) God’s Word is essential to spiritual life. “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise . .” Colossians 3:16-17 NLT. Spiritual maturity is achieved through a growing knowledge of the Word of God and a deepening obedience to the ways of God. (2) Welcome the Holy Spirit to rule your heart. “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do . . let the Holy Spirit fill and control you . . making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God.” Ephesians 5:17-20 NLT. See Galatians 5:8-10/22-23. (3) Make prayer a daily priority. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV. See Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. (4) Let love be your lifestyle. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John  13:34.

Today, my prayer for you is to refuse limits that prevent your being all that God intends.

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An Inviolable Law

October 1st, 2014

“Help carry one another’s burdens . . you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT.

Changing the focus from yourself to others can change your life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “an inviolable law.”

The posted speed limit is not a suggestion for drivers; it’s a protection. The Federal income tax is not a recommended contribution; it’s a requirement. Gravity is not an optional reality; it is a law of nature, just as aerodynamics governs flight. You ignore those to your own loss and harm. Similarly, there are inviolable laws in the Kingdom of God.

The Ten Commandments are not ten suggestions; God established the Law, inviolable and eternal. When God said, “the tithe belonged to the Lord,” He did not request your benevolence; it’s a law that releases the inviolable principle of sowing and reaping. Malachi 3:8-12/2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” John 13:34. He was not requesting your best effort; love is the law of life and relationships within the Kingdom of God. Your obedience to the Laws of God is where God releases His blessings.

We live on a few acres of Texas Mesquite, with three dogs, cows, horses, and miniature donkeys – all within perimeter fences and plenty of room. Within the safety of those fences, they have freedom to enjoy and explore. On our property they are safe, fed, and protected. Beyond those fences, they could be harmed or become a hazard to others. Only bad things will happen to them outside those fences.

Freedom to do whatever you choose is not all that your heart tells you it would be. Liberty without law becomes license, not liberty. Galatians 5:13-14 NLT. God’s laws mark boundaries that are safe and beneficial. His law is not to confine and limit you; His law is to train and direct your will. God’s law protects you from straying beyond the bounds of what would be best for you and others. Paul instructed young Timothy, “We know these laws are good when they are used as God intended.” 1 Timothy 1:8 NLT.

As Joshua prepared to enter Canaan, the land of promise and plenty, God directed him to the Law and its promised blessings, “Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the Law . . you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” See Joshua 1:7-9.

“Help carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT. That is much more than the nice thing to do; it is the right thing to do. Love, practical and observable, obeys, “the law of Christ.” If you want life to be blessed and rich with fulfillment and happiness, watch for chances to serve others, sharing their troubles and cares even when you have problems of your own.

When you lift others’ burdens, making their way a little lighter, God will lift yours. Changing the focus from yourself to others can change your life. “And God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.” Job 42:10. My friend, Harold, said it this way, “What you make happen for others; God will make happen for you.” I have found that true in my life. From your generosity and kindness toward others, you enjoy the greater benefit. “The law of Christ” is an inviolable law. Obey it and you will succeed and prosper. “Oh, how I love Your Law.” See Psalm 119:97-106 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is that you learn to love God’s Law and respect all laws.

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Limits and Liberties

July 25th, 2014

“Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us.”  2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT.

True success and happiness in life is to know and fulfill God’s boundaries.

Lauren, my thoughts and comments today are about “limits and liberties.”

“Fences make good neighbors.” (Mending Wall/ Robert Frost). Fences clarify both a person’s liberties as well as their limits, designating where you have free access and where others do not. In relationships, such fences are called boundaries. Some are determined by you; others are determined for you. People have boundaries that distinguish the public from the private, or should have.

Yours as well as others’ boundaries should be respected, but that doesn’t always happen. When someone pushes too closely into your personal space, or either shares or inquires about matters more personal than you prefer to discuss, their presumption of liberty intrudes beyond your limits. When that happens, you feel a measure of discomfort.

Almost twenty years ago, our family bought rural acreage where we would build our homes. Until then, I had been content to have my home nestled among others. But those acres soon gave me a sense of security and liberty I had not anticipated. The precisely measured survey and the visible fence line marked exactly where our boundaries were. This place was ours. Gayle named it “Heritage Place,” because we believe God provided it for our family.

God’s plan for your life is your “Heritage Place.” God said, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans to prosper and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. True happiness, contentment, and even success is to know and fulfill the boundaries of God’s plan for your life. Accept nothing less than the liberties God provides; require nothing more than the limits God sets. See Galatians 5:13 NKJV. Your appreciation of Godly boundaries has everything to do with your knowledge and trust of the One who sets them. Your joyful acceptance depends on understanding their purpose is for your good not harm.

Inside God’s limits and liberties, life is expansive; outside of those, the consequence can be expensive. From painful experience, David learned the limits within God’s plan were better than the ill-conceived liberties of his own plans. David learned God’s ways are always best, “The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 NIV. To that, I say a hearty, “Amen!”

Paul’s objective should be ours, Our goal is to stay within the boundaries [proper limits] of God’s plan for us.2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT/NIV. Paul was committed to fulfill all God intended, while content not to reach beyond. Paul discovered that within God’s “proper limits,” he found confidence instead of confusion, fruitfulness rather than frustration, and anointing beyond his abilities and efforts. And so will you.

Today, my prayer for you is to rejoice in liberties God affords and respect limits He requires.

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Creativity

March 20th, 2013

“God created man in His own image.” Genesis 1:27 NIV.

God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices.

My thoughts and comments today are about “creativity.”

I admire people who understand and consecrate their creativity. Every person is gifted by God with creative abilities and potential, and that includes you. All persons are innately gifted in a diversity of ways and measures. On this, the Bible is clear.“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT.

I read an interesting quote about the creative process, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Safely in God’s hands, you do not fear your mistakes. Creativity is so much more than the expression of one’s native talent, brilliance, or artistry. Creativity is the profound submission of yourself as a simple vessel through which the genius and greatness of God can flow. God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices. The more prepared and diligent you are as you offer yourself to Him, the more creative you become.

Giftedness may differ in its nature or expression, but God is the source and origin of all gifts, and their best and fullest expression is with His empowerment and direction. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Some use their giftedness constructively and profitably for the common good and well-being of themselves and others. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 NKJV. Others leave gifts undiscovered or dormant, or use them selfishly and destructively.

God is the Creator. The Bible begins with the establishment of that truth, and underscores it in the New Testament. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . God created man in His own image . . all things were created by Him and for Him.” Genesis 1:1/27/Colossians 1:16-17 NIV. How then could you have been “created in His image and in His likeness” without potential for creative expression? Creativity should be more natural to us than is often the case. Creativity has to be valued and nurtured. As children, teens, or adults, some are praised and encouraged to cultivate their giftedness, while others lack necessary reassurance or opportunity to discover and develop latent gifts.

Among family and friends, I marvel at the unique expressions of Godly creativity. Often I see something as ordinary while they see extraordinary possibilities awaiting their touch. My wife is creative in so many ways, but especially as a hostess who makes anyone feel special; our son is an artistic genius at design and construction of homes and churches; our daughter sees beauty in people and loves them until they see it in themselves. (And talking about the grandchildren’s variety of interests and abilities, well that might just sound like bragging.)

Our friend, Jill, is masterful at managing people and administrating projects with skill and efficiency. Devi is a gifted author, teacher, and interior decorator. Ken, a pastor and church builder, is a creative force of unlimited ideas to reach and serve people. Rick and Andrew express exceptional creativity in sharing Biblical insights and teaching clarity. Rod has more stories, ideas, and images in his heart to communicate with children than he has time to fully pursue. Michael is an unbridled reserve of energy with wide-ranging, artistic creativity. Paul’s decided, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us . . use [your] gift in proportion to [your] faith.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV.

Pray as did Jabez, “Bless me and enlarge my territory.” Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV. Creative potential is unlimited, unless you accept boundaries or allow others to impose them. Unwise comparisons with others will undermine your own God-given gifts and your confidence in using them. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. Be inspired by others’ gifts, not intimidated; share your gifts freely, not sparingly. He gave them; glorify Him with them.

My prayer for you today is this: serve God and others well with the giftedness He gives.

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