A Small Investment

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We all are drawn to things that please us.  The beauty of a sunrise.  The aroma of a bouquet of beautiful roses.  The taste of an exquisite meal. The joy of a treasured friendship/relationship.  If we only spend our time focusing on things that please us, we would live a very self-centered world.  In the quest for pleasing ourselves, there usually lays the carnage of people behind us that were in the way of or had to be used so we could get what we thought would please us.

I recently watched a secular video about how to improve your life.  As I listened to the video, I was amazed by how many Biblical principles were included in the talk without using the Bible as a reference.  God’s Word has been with us for thousands of years and the principles that God wants us to live by have been around for even longer.  So why do so many want change in their lives, yet they do not want to put into practice the things that will bring about that change.  As a general rule, we are seeking immediate gratification without thought of the long term effects.

If we choose to eat dessert or overindulge in a particular item at dinner, there may be no immediate results but over time those additional calories add up to extra pounds that were much easier to put on than they are to take off.  So why not exercise the pain of discipline now rather than having to deal with the pain of regret later?   We generally do not choose this route of avoiding dessert because we want to please ourselves right now.

God has given us many verses in the Bible that direct our attention towards how we are to live.  These directives are not given by God so He can laugh at us and watch us suffer.  Rather He wants us to live lives that are not just pleasing to Him, but also will produce for us good fruit.

We could use the analogy of a farmer who gets what he sows.  What about the principle of investing or saving now while denying ourselves a short term pleasure for a greater long term dividend.  The principle of pruning a rose bush of all the dead growth produces more beautiful roses in the end.

It is the little investment now that reaps huge benefits later in life. When faced with a choice, no matter how small there will be a consequence to that choice.  When we say yes to one thing we are saying no to something else.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”  (Proverbs 12:22)

If what we say is not truthful or partially truthful, we set ourselves up for mistrust in our relationships.  Trust is easy to lose, but very hard to regain.  The lies may be “small white lies” but something so small can generate large levels of mistrust in our relationships.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6)

What kind of person do we want to be around? One who is proud or one who is humble?  Yet, we make choices each day that support our pride or our humility.  They may seem like small choices, but they do add up.  As they add up, our reputation will precede us as a proud or humble person.

“Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

I am always up for a little bit of competition.  Have we ever thought about loving and honoring others so much it becomes a bit of a competition?  It changes who we think about.  It changes our focus from what we get to what we can give.  We all appreciate when we are shown honor and respect.  Yet, why do we not do the same thing for others.  Do we look for ways to show honor to every person we meet.  Jesus did not order the disciples to wash His feet, rather He outdid the disciples by showing them honor and washing their feet.  Those that are looking to compete in the honor category do not demand to be served, rather they look for ways to serve.

The list could go on, but I think we get the point.  What we invest will in the end not just benefit those that are around us, it will also benefit us.  God gives grace to the humble not the proud.

If we say yes to something we say no to something else.  If we embrace the pain of discipline now we will enjoy being free of the pain of regret later.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Grace and Boundaries

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I have had some interesting conversations lately with various people about two different topics and yet as I have thought through these topics I realize they go hand-in-hand: grace and boundaries.  In our Christian community, many struggle with when to say “no” and when to say “yes.”  There are so many worthy causes and worthy ministries that we can devote our time to.  There are so many people that are pulling at us, and yet at the same time we are in essence pulling on ourselves.  We feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities or feel guilty by not helping a friend in need. When we have a disagreement with family or friend, we struggle with do I give grace or do I stand up for myself.  We interact with various people that have well placed yet flexible boundaries, others who have rigid boundaries, and still others with no boundaries at all. What is the answer?  We must look at Jesus and the principles He established while on earth to guide us through this maze.

 

Questions or observations from the life of Christ while on earth to help us evaluate grace and boundaries:

 

  1. Is it sin? John 8:1-11 tells of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her, but He rebuked her and told her “go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 1:11).  When someone is sinning we condemn or we gossip or we judge.  Jesus did not lecture her, nor did He yell at her.  His tone from the text is one of love and compassion.
  2. Does the intrusion cause us to not spend time daily with God in His Word and in prayer? Luke 5:15, 16 finds Jesus ministering to many “But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  No matter the demands of our lives, if we do not take the time to spend with the Father in prayer and Bible reading then we have said “yes” to too many things. We must plan for our quiet time each day and not let anything get in the way of this.  Maybe we need to go to bed earlier or get up earlier or turn our phones off…whatever we need to do must be done so this time becomes special and never missed in our day.
  3. Jesus was never in a rush. If our lives are characterized by being in a rush than we have again overcommitted.  Maybe we need to delegate small tasks to our children to help us have more time to accomplish the tasks we need to do.  Jesus delegated to the disciples to find bread in the feeding of the 5,000.  He delegated to the disciples to find the donkey that would be ridden for the Triumphal entry.  One of my favorite stories is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43-48.  Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’s daughter.  He was an important man with a dying twelve year old daughter.  This constitutes an emergency, but Jesus stopped and talked with the woman who touched His robe.  He could have pressed on through the crowds knowing she was healed by touching His garment, rather He took a few minutes and encouraged her, He gave her grace.
  4. We must remember who we are. We are a Child of the King.  Sometimes we must “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  It may not be a sin issue, but it is an invasion into our boundaries.  In love, with a calm and gentle voice, we must remind another of our boundaries. We need to listen to our bodies-even Jesus took a nap.  (Mark 4:38).  Sometimes our boundaries will be sacrificed for another’s boundaries.  If it is not sin, does not cause a loss in our personal time with God, does not cause us to rush and will minister to another; we should willingly sacrifice.  We must show grace to others as God has shown it to us.

 

 

This is a hard topic to quantify: boundaries and grace.  There are not too many hard and fast rules or a logarithm to follow: if this than this.  We must remember the Holy Spirit lives within us as believers.  He will help to guide us in the grey area situations if we spend time with the Father daily and allow the Spirit to minister to our Spirit. (Romans 8:16).  Again, I want to remind each of us that the Holy Spirit lives within us.  He wants to guide us through each and every situation for our good and the Father’s glory.

Grace and Boundaries

20160531_195609

 

I have had some interesting conversations lately with various people about two different topics and yet as I have thought through these topics I realize they go hand-in-hand: grace and boundaries.  In our Christian community, many struggle with when to say “no” and when to say “yes.”  There are so many worthy causes and worthy ministries that we can devote our time to.  There are so many people that are pulling at us, and yet at the same time we are in essence pulling on ourselves.  We feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities or feel guilty by not helping a friend in need. When we have a disagreement with family or friend, we struggle with do I give grace or do I stand up for myself.  We interact with various people that have well placed yet flexible boundaries, others who have rigid boundaries, and still others with no boundaries at all. What is the answer?  We must look at Jesus and the principles He established while on earth to guide us through this maze.

 

Questions or observations from the life of Christ while on earth to help us evaluate grace and boundaries:

 

  1. Is it sin? John 8:1-11 tells of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her, but He rebuked her and told her “go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 1:11).  When someone is sinning we condemn or we gossip or we judge.  Jesus did not lecture her, nor did He yell at her.  His tone from the text is one of love and compassion.
  2. Does the intrusion cause us to not spend time daily with God in His Word and in prayer? Luke 5:15, 16 finds Jesus ministering to many “But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  No matter the demands of our lives, if we do not take the time to spend with the Father in prayer and Bible reading then we have said “yes” to too many things. We must plan for our quiet time each day and not let anything get in the way of this.  Maybe we need to go to bed earlier or get up earlier or turn our phones off…whatever we need to do must be done so this time becomes special and never missed in our day.
  3. Jesus was never in a rush. If our lives are characterized by being in a rush than we have again overcommitted.  Maybe we need to delegate small tasks to our children to help us have more time to accomplish the tasks we need to do.  Jesus delegated to the disciples to find bread in the feeding of the 5,000.  He delegated to the disciples to find the donkey that would be ridden for the Triumphal entry.  One of my favorite stories is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43-48.  Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’s daughter.  He was an important man with a dying twelve year old daughter.  This constitutes an emergency, but Jesus stopped and talked with the woman who touched His robe.  He could have pressed on through the crowds knowing she was healed by touching His garment, rather He took a few minutes and encouraged her, He gave her grace.
  4. We must remember who we are. We are a Child of the King.  Sometimes we must “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  It may not be a sin issue, but it is an invasion into our boundaries.  In love, with a calm and gentle voice, we must remind another of our boundaries. We need to listen to our bodies-even Jesus took a nap.  (Mark 4:38).  Sometimes our boundaries will be sacrificed for another’s boundaries.  If it is not sin, does not cause a loss in our personal time with God, does not cause us to rush and will minister to another; we should willingly sacrifice.  We must show grace to others as God has shown it to us.

 

 

This is a hard topic to quantify: boundaries and grace.  There are not too many hard and fast rules or a logarithm to follow: if this than this.  We must remember the Holy Spirit lives within us as believers.  He will help to guide us in the grey area situations if we spend time with the Father daily and allow the Spirit to minister to our Spirit. (Romans 8:16).  Again, I want to remind each of us that the Holy Spirit lives within us.  He wants to guide us through each and every situation for our good and the Father’s glory.