Mundane Monday: The Purpose of the Law

Photo credits: pinterest

Photo credits: pinterest

1 Timothy 1:5-8

5 “But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately.”

Psalm 119:30

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”

Here it is a Monday again.  The day-in, day-out drudgery of the work week awaits us as we open our eyes to a new week.  Well, that is one perspective.  Another viewpoint is one of gratitude.  Today is Labor Day and today I thank God for the gift of work and for a mission He has called each of us to.  We are blessed to have work and blessed to be able to work.  Work is one of the occupations God gave us to do in His sovereign wisdom that sometimes our flesh resists, much like the laws He has in place, which is the topic today for all of us rule breakers at heart.

Laws.  Deemed as spoilers by some, a means to judge others or of self-righteousness to some, and to still others a moment of grace – of seeing our need for salvation once we see within ourselves the inability to perfectly adhere to God’s law.

Everywhere there are signs of mankind’s desire for no limits.  What is it about rules that sparks a seed of rebellion in our hearts and deceives a people?  To some, breaking rules seems like freedom.  We are doing what we want to do.  Or are we?  The irony of submitting to our fleshly desires is that in doing what we want to do, we become a taskmaster for our own destruction.

The limits set in place by an all-wise, all-knowing God are intended for our benefit.  In our deception we strive for what we perceive is a thing of beauty – no accountability, no hindrance of following someone else’s idea, and yet that pursuit is what becomes our prison, after all.

It is so beautiful that the aim of God’s laws and instruction is love.  God is not a spoiler of fun.  Sin destroys us and He wants us to be in relationship with Him – not separated from Him.  He hates to see us suffer from poor choices made at the altar of the gods of self and pleasure.

We are all subject to God’s laws, universal and spiritual, whether or not we want to be.  No one escapes the law of gravity, and while some might escape the consequences of disobeying civil or spiritual laws for a season, seared consciences are the penalty borne and ultimately all deeds will be judged by the Perfect law maker and giver, Jesus Christ.

A rule breaker can be deemed as “cool” by the world and a rule keeper seen as “prudish”, but it is how one keeps the law that matters.  Just as rebellion is not acceptable in the sight of God, neither is legalism.  Rationalizing which rules are important and which ones are not also does not change the premise of walking in the liberty of following God’s laws regarding ethics, big or small laws.

Our flesh does not like to be held accountable or to have to conform to someone else’s plan, and yet His plan is best.  We want our way, and yet God beautifully has designed a structure of leadership and accountability that ultimately provides care for those who will submit to His leadership.

People can use laws for their own ends, manipulating the original intent in an attempt to justify their actions.  But inside a voice cries out for truth and righteousness if we listen.  Breaking rules does not bring the peace of God nor satisfy the heart cry of our soul.  God’s loving and perfect laws are safe boundaries He designed that are kept and fulfilled only by the grace of God.

Lord, thank you for revealing our need for your salvation.  Help us to love the boundaries You have so wisely set in our lives.  May we resist the flesh and live lives for Your glory.

Thoughtful Thursday: Illusive Discipline

Photo Credits: quotivee.com

Photo Credits:
quotivee.com

Proverbs 5:11-12, 23

11 “And at the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and your body are wasted away.  12 And you will say, “How I hated discipline! My heart spurned reproof!” 23 He will die because there was no discipline; because of the greatness of his folly he will reel.”

1 Timothy 4:7

“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”

1 Corinthians 9:27

“But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Our flesh despises discipline.  Routine is agony and seemingly inhibits freedom.  I have struggled for most of my adult life to be consistent in exercise, healthy eating and devotions.  Just when I thought I mastered one of these areas, I saw how woefully wrong I was.

We never arrive.  So what is the point of still trying?  It is in the trying, the persisting, the pressing on that character is formed, often unknowingly to the soul that seeks to follow God closely.

Discipline gets bad publicity.  It is seen as wrong in today’s society when applied to the parent/child relationship.  It might even be viewed as abusive to apply punishment for a wrong done.  Denying self seems brutal to many, too, because flesh is the god this world bows to.

Christ knew we would struggle to be disciplined, but He did not lower the bar.  He raised the bar and demonstrated a disciplined life, yielded to God.  We all prefer lavish grace – we are only human, after all.  But God expects more and so should we.  Lowering the bar because we are imperfect is not grace – it is laziness.

We would never accept a lackluster job performance for something we paid for, yet we expect forgiveness, mercy and understanding when we live our lives -which were bought at a high price – for self.  The dichotomy of our expectations and contributions brings us to a crisis.  A crisis of seeing God’s requirement and our inability to carry it out.  In that moment of realization, though, we see our need of Him to help us exercise our will toward righteousness and kingdom purposes.

Being disciplined is so very hard.  The flesh wars against our soul and is a pushy personality.  It wants what it wants – when it wants it. Paul understood this and battled against his flesh, too.  This is where victory lies – staying in the battle. When failure after failure pile up as witnesses against us, we rise again to battle, because the war is already won.  To give up is not an option – we are not defeated if we will only continue to deny the flesh and ask God to help us choose the disciplined path.

Lord, thank You for your grace.  Your laws and precepts are perfect and medicine to our soul.  What we perceive as discipline is what we really need.  Thank You for Your patience, LORD.  Help us to walk in victory, faithfully following Your decrees all for Your glory.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Gap Between Conviction & Intentionality

Photo Credits scottrossonline.com

Photo Credits scottrossonline.com

Proverbs 28:4-5

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law contend with them.  5 Evil people do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it all.  9 The one who turns away his ear from hearing the law,even his prayer is an abomination.

So, it might no longer be a fitting title for this blog to be called “Thoughtful Thursday” since it is, in fact being written and posted on a Friday, but I could not miss my favorite day of posting – even though I technically did.  (o:  Better late than never!

At first blush, this verse in Proverbs seems not too applicable to probably most of my readers, but I love to try and think outside of the box – to see if there is an application there that perhaps I did not consider.  While there are many motivations to abstain from sin, this one probably ranks high on the list.  I do not think any one of us would voluntarily say they consciously praise the wicked.  “Boy, I cannot wait to go praise the enemy” – said no good Christian ever.  But is it possible that could occur?  To forsake the law potentially encompasses many actions.  We can willfully choose not to obey God’s law or a law that God sovereignly placed us under on this earth, but frequently, the law is forsaken unintentionally.  Subtly.

Sometimes it is a lack of understanding.  Is a specific law still applicable today?  Take the Sabbath, for instance.  Scripture is replete with many examples of God’s call to faithfully still adhere to the Sabbath.  It would not look the same as it did in the Old Testament, but since God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, does not He still want us to rest and worship Him, one day a week?  I am humbled to say this is a challenge to me, but the fear of the LORD drives me to not casually set aside a law if I do not understand it or it seems outdated.

Another form of forsaking the law is when we permit words to come out of our mouth that Scripture clearly commands us not to – praise and cursing come out of the same mouth.  But often it can slip in many “Christian” circles as being a “part of the culture”.  Not a part of God’s culture, but somehow allowed in because the Christian’s sins are covered?  May it never be.

Exposing areas in our lives that are not consistent with the life hidden in Christ can sting a little bit.  We all have blind spots, spaces in our faith that lack integrity and perhaps an understanding of what God requires.  That is where God’s grace comes in – not to placate those areas, but to cover the ones that are still hidden from us while we still seek to be obedient to God and His Word.  We need to be intentional – not legalistic, but sincere and persistent in seeking God’s laws.  It is my earnest prayer that this weak vessel will spark a generation of sincere believers who will be vigilant in walking with their faithful God and be a light in a dark world.

Lord, reveal to us where we are not submitting to Your law and help us to obey Your laws fervently.  Thank You for Your promise that if we seek You, we will understand justice and our need to follow Your ways.  How amazing You are!