boundaries

Legitimate or Illegitimate?

Children need boundaries. We all do. Without clear boundaries of what's okay or not okay, we run amuck and trample on the feelings and rights of others.

Clear boundaries and consistency are essential elements for raising healthy and confident children who will mature into healthy and confident adults.

We've seen this with our own children and hundreds of others my wife and I cared for over the years. Now we see this with our grandchildren and children of our extended family in the Philippines.

Sadly, a lack of healthy consistent discipline has rippled through our nation, beginning with the "me generation" of the seventies to a couple million people incarcerated and well over four million others on probation or parole, producing heartache and despair.

No boundaries and the abandonment of discipline brings conflict and disruption in families and society at large. We all need discipline and boundaries. Without them, we will self-destruct personally and so will our nation if things don't change.

Scripture

You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:

“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” [vss 4-6] [reference– Proverbs 3:11-12]

Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers.

If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? [vss 7-9]

(Hebrews 12:4-9 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What is said about our struggle with sin? How does this relate to you in a personal way?

  • What are the encouraging words spoken about here? How is this strong exhortation encouraging?

  • How is the idea of God's discipline explained? Does this make sense to you?

  • How is the discipline God gives His children different than what our natural parents do?

Reflection...

No one likes correction, not immediately. Neither do we like to undergo discipline or accept punishment, even when it's deserved. We can be quick to claim, "It's unfair!" But much of the time we need to be disciplined for our own good.

This is one of the more difficult things for believers and nonbelievers to understand. "Why would a loving God discipline, correct, or punish anyone?"

The short answer is—so we don't become spoiled brats! Also, God wants to develop a nature in us like His. He wants us to fit in with His family, that is, He wants us to be His legitimate children, not to be illegitimate, self-willed rebels.

An important element of God's redemptive work is restoring us so we may enjoy a face to face relationship with God. But this requires an internal work in us. A transforming work in our hearts and lives. God uses external situations in our life to shape and transform our inner nature.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How did this exhortation speak to the believers who heard this first and how does it fit for us?

  • What kind of discipline did you receive as a child and how has it shaped your life?

  • Do you think your own upbringing might get in the way of understanding God's discipline?

  • How can you better understand and accept God's discipline in your life?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Not Open

What's the most important thing to understand about heaven? It isn't that the streets of heaven are made of transparent pure gold with a wall that has twelve gates of pearl (Rev 21:21). The primary focus isn't what it's like or what happens there, but who is there.

Of course, the primary focus is God. Heaven isn't some destination high above our atmosphere but a different dimension than our physical world. It's the very presence of God.

The way into the presence of God is closed if we rely on religion and good deeds. That stairway just isn't long enough or strong enough.

But the way into the very presence of God is open to those who personally trust in the Lord and His grace, His favor and goodness, by faith.

Scripture

The first promise [covenant] had rules for the priests’ service. It also had a holy place on earth. A tent was set up. The first part of this tent was called the holy place. The lamp stand, the table, and the bread of the presence were in this part of the tent. 
Behind the second curtain was the part of the tent called the most holy place. It contained the gold incense burner and the ark of the Lord’s promise. The ark was completely covered with gold. In the ark were the gold jar filled with manna, Aaron’s staff that had blossomed, and the tablets on which the promise  was written. Above the ark were the angels  of glory ⌊with their wings⌋ overshadowing the throne of mercy. (Discussing these things in detail isn’t possible now.) [vss 1-5]
That is how these two parts of the tent were set up. The priests always went into the first part of the tent to perform their duties. But only the chief priest went into the second part of the tent. Once a year he entered and brought blood that he offered for himself and for the things that the people did wrong unintentionally.
The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open while the tent was still in use. [vss 6-8]
The first part of the tent is an example for the present time. The gifts and sacrifices that were brought there could not give the worshiper a clear conscience. These gifts and sacrifices were meant to be food, drink, and items used in various purification ceremonies. These ceremonies were required for the body until God would establish a new way of doing things. [vss 9-10]
(Hebrews 9:1-10 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about the tent used during the first promise (Old Covenant)?

  • How is it described and who can go into which parts? How and when are they able to enter these two places?

  • What do you think it means "the way into the most holy place" wasn't open?

  • Why was access to the "most holy place" restricted? When would it be open?

Reflection...

Religion is restrictive by nature. It's designed to be that way. Generally, we are either attracted to this restrictive nature or repelled by it. These restrictions are like a spiritual framework or infrastructure of belief.

On one hand, religion gives us prescribed boundaries intended to provide freedom and protection within those boundaries. Yet, many people want the freedom without the restrictions as a somewhat manageable form of anarchy.

Basically, we all place much greater weight on external issues rather internal ones because we live in a physical, tangible world. It may also seem like external things are easier to manage or control than what's internal.

The first promise—the Old Covenant Law—was not perfect nor eternal but temporary. It focused on the physical and external, it was not inherently spiritual and internal or eternal.

The comparison between the old and new promises (covenants) illustrates the difference between a religion based on obedience and a relationship based on God's grace,

The New Covenant, a promise extended through God's grace, brings internal transformation and isn't focused on external issues and actions. As internal transformation takes place, external concerns and actions conform to the internal change in a person.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • What attracts or repels you about religion or religious practices?

  • Do you understand how religious practices can be a hindrance to walking by faith?

  • When have you experienced having a clear conscience? What led up to it?

  • How have you experienced an external change in your life based on internal transformation?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews