Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Boundary Living

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. Regardless of how difficult it may be for you today, why don't you take the time to rejoice in God's faithfulness and goodness!

Thank you to everyone that has prayed for my dad, and asked about him. He is on the mend and doing much better. He has a ways to go, but is steadily improving. Please continue to pray for him.

As I was praying and meditating on God's Word this morning, God began to speak with me about BOUNDARY LIVING. What do I mean by that? Let me share a couple of thoughts with you. Let's start off with Paul. He is talking with the Ephesians about how he is SUFFERING for them. He has been imprisoned, beaten and left for dead, abused by many…YET after talking with them about some of his hardships he says,

Eph 3:14-21 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, (15) this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. (16) I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength-- (17) that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, (18) you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! (19) Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (20) God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (21) Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

What a prayer. What is Paul responding to? Verse 13 gives us the answer to that question: "trouble" In the midst of trouble his RESPONSE was to PRAY FOR OTHERS. Wow! I want to be like that. When trouble strikes, where ever it comes from...I want my response to be, "TO GET DOWN ON MY KNEES before the Father" and pray for other's regardless of the pain in my life. That is SELFLESS living. Actually, another way to put it is that is CHRISTLIKE living! Even if the people I'm praying for brought the trouble upon me. Isn't that what Jesus taught us to do? Yes, it is a difficult teaching, but it is GOD'S WORD AND GOD'S WAY. He expects us to be SEPARATE from the World in the way that we set BOUNDARIES in our lives! We are to BE different from the world, from those that are not Christians. Again, listen to Paul as he writes under the influence of the Holy Spirit:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (AMP) So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, [Isa. 52:11.]

(MSG) So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.

Separation from the world involves more than keeping our distance from sinful practices; it means staying close to God. It involves more than avoiding worldly entertainment; it extends to how we spend our time and money. There is no way to separate ourselves totally from all sinful influences. Nevertheless, we are to resist the sin around us, without either giving up or giving in. When you know what God wants you to do, make a clean break with sinful practices. In fact, Jesus said:

John 17:15 (AMP) I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one.

(MSG) Just as I didn't join the world's ways. I'm not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One.

I did an interesting word study this morning. In the scripture above (2 Corinthians 6:17) God tells us to be SEPARATE. What exactly does that mean? The Greek word is aphorizō and it means:

to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate

So, according to this definition, when God tells us to "be ye SEPARATE" He is telling us to live lives that are marked off from others by BOUNDARIES. What God wants and expects from us is to have BOUNDARIES that mark us off from the world that we live in. As Christians, we are to TALK, WALK, ACT, LIVE, WORK, PLAY, DO BUSINESS, RESPOND, COMMUNICATE in ways that are different from the way those who are not Christians live. Jesus RAISED THE STANDARD with His TEACHING. We are to be different, New Creatures in Christ. The world should see a difference in us. How will they see this difference? They will see it through the BOUNDARIES that we live by. This is not popular teaching anymore, but it doesn't change the TRUTH of the teaching. We have some things that we WILL NOT DO. As Christians we have some places that we WILL NOT GO. We have some things that we WILL NOT SAY. We have some clothes that we WILL NOT WEAR. We have some attitudes that we WILL NOT ALLOW TO STAY IN OUR HEARTS. We have some people in our lives that we WILL NOT HATE. God is telling us to live by BOUNDARIES. Our lives should be marked off, limited, separated to the point that the world sees Jesus in us! How? We are DIFFERENT. Remember that the Word of God says that we are "new creatures in Christ" and that the "old has passed away". We MUST live a CHANGED LIFE if we want to see CHANGED LIVES! Listen to how Jesus raised the standard, and instructed us on BOUNDARY LIVING:

Matthew 5:38-48 "Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' (39) Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. (40) If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. (41) And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. (42) No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (43) "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' (44) I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies.
Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, (45) for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best--the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. (46) If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. (47) If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. (48) "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

What a challenge for me today! LIVE differently. Set up boundaries that allow folks to see that I am different! And THE DIFFERENCE is because Jesus has CHANGED MY LIFE!

The world MUST see change in us before they see the need to CHANGE! Over and over in the New Testament, people would see the change that Jesus brought into people's lives, and it got their attention and led them to ultimately find out about this JESUS! It must happen again in our time. Where people see Jesus in us...HOW? CHANGED LIVES!

Let me give you an example. In Luke 8:27-40 the Bible talks about a demon possessed man who lived in a cemetery. No one could control him with chains or anything else. He would roam the cemetery without any clothes in terrible bondage. When he comes in contact with Jesus, something happens. Jesus sets the man FREE from the demon possession. I mean TOTALLY and COMPLETELY free! Well, people went running into town to tell everyone, and many came to see what had happened with the formerly possessed man. Please notice the following verses:

Luke 8:35-40 People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man, from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet,
wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. (36) Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved. (37) Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave--too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. (38) The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, (39) "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him. (40) On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him.

A great crowd gathered to see Jesus, why? Because of the CHANGE they saw in the man. In the King James Version it says they saw him, "clothed and in his RIGHT mind." My friends, this is how we will see change in America: By America seeing CHANGE in God's people. The CHANGE that comes from meeting Jesus, and living the way He instructs us…SEPARATE…BOUNDARY LIVING. If you haven't been living this way, why don't you RIGHT NOW call out to Jesus, and allow Him to set you free, forgive you, restore you, and put an excitement and HOPE back into your heart. He wants to…RIGHT NOW! Don't let anything, or anyone, hold you back! You didn't just stumble onto this blog today. God's Spirit directed you here! So allow Him to bring LIFE, LOVE and LIGHT back into your present and future! If you would like to discuss this further with me, please email me at: rustyblann@yahoo.com

I love you guys, and pray you have a blessed BOUNDARY-filled day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading (January 22, 2008): Exodus 35:1-40:38