Posted by: pastortomvabeach | March 13, 2017

Thought for the Week March 19, 2017

I have been enjoying my devotional read through the Bible this year using one of You Version’s reading guides. It is called “Bible in One Year 2017”. Each day there is a devotional thought written by Rev. Nicky Gumbel, who is a pastor and the current director of the Alpha course which is responsible for thousands of people coming to Christ and being filled with the Spirit each year. In the devotional reading on Monday, March 13, Pastor Gumbel talked about Loving Boundaries. Let me share his thoughts:

“I remember, years ago, a football match that had been arranged involving twenty-two small boys (including one of my sons, aged eight at the time). A friend of mine called Andy (who had been training the boys all year) was going to referee. Unfortunately, by 2.30 pm he had not turned up. The boys could wait no longer. I was press-ganged into being the substitute referee. But, I had no whistle, there were no markings for the boundaries of the pitch and I did not know the rules nearly as well as some of the boys.

“The game soon descended into complete chaos. Some shouted that the ball was in. Others said that it was out. I wasn’t at all sure, so I let things run. Then the fouls started. Some cried, ‘Foul.’ Others said, ‘No foul.’ I didn’t know who was right. So I let them play on. Then people began to get hurt. By the time Andy arrived, there were three boys lying ‘injured’ on the ground and all the rest were shouting, mainly at me!

“But the moment Andy arrived, he blew his whistle, arranged the teams, told them where the boundaries were and had them under complete control. The boys then enjoyed a great game of football.

“Were the boys more free without the rules, or were they in fact less free? Without any effective authority they could do exactly what they wanted. The result was that people were confused and hurt. They much preferred it when the game was played according to the rules. Within these boundaries, they were free to enjoy the game. The rules of football are not designed to take away the fun of the game. They are designed to enable the game to be enjoyed to the full.

“God’s ‘rules’ are his boundaries for life, given out of his love for us. Keeping God’s ‘rules’ is the way to life in all its fullness. His boundaries are not designed to restrict our freedom but rather to give us freedom. Like the rules of football, they do not stop the enjoyment of the game. Rather they enable the game of life to be enjoyed to the full.”

For us Americans, when Gumbel, who lives in England, says “football”, it probably means rugby. A “pitch” is what they call the field. At any rate, this story set up the reading for the day which was from Proverbs 7. My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye. (verses 1-2). Notice that God does not invite us to follow his laws, he commands us to follow. But this is not the command of a dictator. Rather, it is the instruction of a loving Father (he calls us my son) designed to ensure justice, peace and fullness of life.

The Father urges us, His children to treasure up my commandments with you, as if we were filling a treasure chest with His word. He tells us that by keeping His commands we will truly live. Why is that? Because His Words are the boundary lines, the rules of the game, the living referee that frees us up to participate in all of life’s situations and win the game. Rules are never meant to hinder or encumber the game but to make the game work to its fullest potential.

I have witnessed something similar. I visited a city outside or the United States where there were no operating traffic signals, no traffic police, and no drivers who paid any attention to whatever signs were available. It was chaos! This city had a population over 20 million, with every sort of private and public vehicle clogging the roads and nothing went anywhere fast. I don’t think I saw a vehicle travel over 5 miles per hour until we got outside the city limits on a rural highway. Traffic laws don’t restrict driving, they free it up so things move!

I wonder if you have thought of God’s Word, His commands, as His way of curtailing your enjoyment of life, to take the fun out of living. Well, that just ain’t so, to use the vernacular. You will never be more free to love your life than when you are submitted to and walking under the direction of His Word and Spirit. Try it sometime. Get His Word into your heart and let it direct your life. My guess is you’ll never go back to the old world of chaos. That’s just a thought from Nicky Gumbel and from me.

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