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DAY 9

Boundaries

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: If you could change one thing in your life that makes you feel far from God, what would it be? Take a moment to write it down.

[15 minutes]
Scripture reading:

Ezra 8:21-36
Ezra 9:1-15
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Psalm 31:1-8
Proverbs 21:1-2

Devotional thought
In our New Testament passage today we read about some reality-TV-worthy behavior in the church at Corinth. For some perspective, in the Roman world, every city had a god. The God of Corinth was (drumroll please) Aphrodite. That’s right, the god of sexual love and beauty. This meant that sexual behavior was a significant part of the religious practices in Corinth's pagan temples. This also meant that the Christians in Corinth probably came to faith with a whole lot of sexual baggage.

Is this sounding at all relatable? Just because something is “normal” in our culture does not mean that God wants us to live our lives stuck there. We are called to be different, to stand out!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

In chapter 5 of the letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul addresses a specific situation happening in that specific church, but with a framework that we can learn from. Paul gives instructions for setting appropriate boundaries for the purpose of redemption.

Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:5

Some of you might be like “Gosh, harsh much?” and some of you are probably thinking “yeah, forget him!” Paul is not saying either of these things. The idea that Paul is conveying here is the incredibly difficult concept of boundaries. Sometimes, when people have made extremely poor decisions, we have to step back and let them feel the consequences of those decisions. When we step back from “helping” we make room for God to step in.

When people are left alone with the consequences of their choices and God one of those two starts to look really good. When God is the only option left, God is the answer most of us will turn to. Sometimes we have to let people we love, experience this for themselves. Often God will allow us to go through seasons like this to get our attention and set us free from the oppression of our selfish choices.
 
What applies to me?
It is easy to give the word “good” a very narrow definition. We want to define good as comfortable, easy, and beautiful. So we think that a “good God” will make everything comfortable, easy, and beautiful. In reality, what is good is not always going to be comfortable. Think about the majority of health procedures done to save lives. Would we consider the care provider good
if they withheld lifesaving treatment because it was going to be uncomfortable?

Are you in a relationship with someone who is engaging in hurtful or harmful behavior, and you know that you need to set a boundary? Maybe you are letting people down due to poor personal management and daily habits. Now things are getting uncomfortable in relationships where you have dropped the proverbial ball. Have you slipped into bad habits or addictions and it is time to step towards freedom by setting boundaries for yourself?

It might be time to get really honest with yourself about what is good, and what isn’t good. If you find yourself in a season of boundary setting here are a few tips to help you get started.
1) Seek God first, last, and all the way through.
2) Have accountability. Life is better and safer together.
3) Work for consistency in the boundaries you have set.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: Is there something or someone in your life that needs some boundaries?. It might be as simple as your morning cell phone use, or it could be something much more difficult. Write down a boundary you are committing to set.

Pray it out: Take some time to pray over the challenge you are facing. God is able to give you wisdom and courage for the next step. You don’t have to know the outcome to be obedient now. If you have been dealing with something alone, God might prompt you to tell someone.  Maybe you have put off a difficult conversation. Seek God, say yes to the next step, and walk forward in faith.

Live it out:  Write your boundary in a place where you will see it. Remember, sometimes when we step back from “helping” we make room for God.