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Posts Tagged ‘liberties’

Rules and Standards

April 12th, 2018

God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

 “[God’s] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace

for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “rules and standards.”

Life is better with rules. Rules are essential, establishing boundaries and measuring achievement. Yet, very few of us appreciate rules in the way we should. People seem to bristle when too many rules seem restrictive and imposed. We all tend to resist when we feel less free to do as we want to do. Consider this. Without rules, athletic competition would be havoc. That’s why there are rules and referees, grades and graduation requirements, right and wrong, rewards and penalties.

I can’t imagine a world without rules. With no rules of the road, driving would be dangerous. In daily interactions, the bold would overpower the timid. The strong would take advantage of the weak. The wealthy would neglect the poor. For a clear reason, the Ten Commandments were not called the, “Ten Recommendations.” Nor were they meant to be. Out of His love for you, not His love for law, God commanded those rules to live by.

Marriages are best with mutually understood rules. Families need clearly stated rules. Friendships succeed with mutually accepted rules. Employers and employees require agreement on rules. Individuals need to establish standards by which they are willing to be evaluated. I am grateful that my Dad believed in rules. Admittedly, I didn’t appreciate those as much while a teen. But Dad’s rules were always clear and fair – and enforced or rewarded. They made me wiser and better than I would otherwise have been. Rules establish safe boundaries for your benefit, not to limit or restrict you, except for your guidance and protection. Rules can protect and keep you safe. Maybe it would help to think of standards rather than rules. I see three occasions for rules and standards.

You need people in your life who help you learn and establish Godly standards. That is the value of parents, teachers, friends, civil and governmental authorities, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit. They establish rules that benefit all. The Bible reminds us that, “The authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” Read Romans 13.3-6 NIV. Respect rules, embrace appropriate boundaries, and appreciate their practical need for making your life better, measuring your achievements, rewarding your efforts, and keeping you safer.

The rule of law protects the lawful and restrains the lawless. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NKJV. In your life, whose opinion and counsel offer you trusted guidance, Godly wisdom, and a spiritual haven in uncertain times?

True liberty is not without restraints, and never without limits. I had a fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cook, who taught our class a simple principle about boundaries and liberties, “Your liberty to swing your fist without restraint ends at the tip of another’s nose.” What a great rule for fourth graders, as well as kids, teens, and adults of all ages. Friends and family help set standards of behavior for one another. Often it is more kind than cruel to say no. Choose wisely the bounds you will honor, and associate with friends who respect them, and thereby respect you.

At all times, you must require and embrace boundaries for yourself. The best decisions you make were made before any situation needing rules presented itself. The right decision is never too late, but it’s best when made early. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Everything is permissible, but not everything is edifying.” I Corinthians 10:23 NAS. Choose what is profitable, in order to edify others and glorify God. God’s Word marks the places where you will find your greatest liberties, and where you and others find safety.

When I was first preparing for ministry, my Dad taught me a very practical and valuable lesson about establishing non-negotiable, personal boundaries, for success in pastoral ministry. My Dad’s advice was invaluable, “Many who look to you for leadership will likely exceed the liberties you permit yourself; so be wise and measured in all you allow yourself to say and do. And others who follow you may stop short of your disciplines, so be careful, always seeking to excel.”

There will always be others observing and following you. Jesus was clear, “I have set before you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. You are always safe when following Jesus’ example. Paul was clear as well with his instruction to young Timothy. ”Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV. Be sure that the rules you expect others to observe are a priority in your own life and relational interactions.

Even when you do not think so, someone is always following you, Many years ago, a man made this observation of me, “Pastor, you are not hard to follow because you do not make sudden turns.” I am not sure whether he meant that as a compliment, but I accepted it as one. I want to be easy to follow for my family and for those who trust my leadership. My objective is simple. I want my family and friends to know what my values are, where I am going, Who I am following, and how to get where God is leading.

“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, [His] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV. I like that. In your life, His rules produce a, “harvest of righteousness and peace,” for those who accept and follow the Father’s instruction and disciplines. Anything that God requires of you is for your benefit, not His. Embracing God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

Today I pray for you to establish Godly standards. His rules are given to protect, not confine you.

Christian Communications 2018

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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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