Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Learn to Like the Rules

Let me ask you this. (About to get up in your business alert!) Did you ever go through a period in your life where one or both of your parents had to stand flat-footed, with finger in your face and say these words, "As long as you live in my house, you will live by my rules", or something to that effect? Oh, you there...that happened to you? More than once? Yeah, I kinda thought so. You over there...never? You sure? Well, bless your heart.
I have to admit that I have, and it's not a nice memory. We all know that kind of statement doesn't come after you've done something good. No parent has ever said those words after you've done all your chores, or brought home straight A's, or ate all your broccoli . No, those words came after you broke their rules. And usually it wasn't a minor infraction either.
If the truth be told, those were words I didn't want to hear, but I desperately needed to hear. I needed those words firmly spoken to snap me out of whatever kind of nonsense I was into. And I knew when I heard those words I had a choice to make. Either I was going to live by their rules, or I was not living in their house. I'm not sure where I was going to go, but I was certainly going to have to leave from there.
Now my initial response to a talking like that from my parents was not an immediate "I sure do appreciate that". In fact my knee-jerk response was to want to talk back, or to walk out the house slamming a door behind me. The fact that I am here to type this post lets you know I didn't do either of those. I just sat there and gritted my teeth while staring at the floor. But over time, I realized they were right and I was wrong, and I needed that reminder about their rules. I shudder to think where I would have ended up had I totally rejected their rules.
Now that I and most of you are grown and setting our own rules, we may think we don't have anyone to answer to. But we still have rules to follow, and if you're a Christian like me, they include God's rules. The Bible is full of them. In scripture they're called commandments, laws, decrees, precepts, and statutes. Though some may not feel this way, God's rules are no more meant to hurt us or steal our fun than our parents rules were. Yet so many reject God because they don't want to accept His rules. While others want to pick and choose which of His rules they want to follow. But here is the truth, and you'd do well to listen closely. God's house...God's rules! Sure we're saved by grace and not by works. I mean my parents loved me even when I was breaking their rules. But they weren't going to tolerate my rule-breaking because of that love. In fact, it was their love that prompted them to discipline me. Same way with God. It might not feel like it at the time, but His rules are meant for our good.
So even now, when God has to have that talk with me, I try to keep my heart soft enough to receive it even when my head isn't. And my prayer is that I can continue to grow into these words written in Psalm 119: 9-16
"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."

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