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But me....

Throughout life there have been times all the "rules" just seemed to do little more than aggravate me or make me envious of those who could blatantly ignore them. I wanted so desperately to just ignore all those rules and have a little "fun" in life! If you were totally honest, you would say that sometimes you wonder what value the rules play. Well, even when we don't fully understand the rules, they play an important part in our safety. For example, driving down an open highway at a straight stretch allows speeds of 75 miles per hour. Why? The road is straight, you can see oncoming traffic, and you have less chances of losing control of your vehicle when you are going in a straight line! Get that same vehicle onto a winding road, tall trees all around, with the road barely built into the side of the mountain and you may WANT to drive at 75 miles per hour so you'd get to your destination faster, but there are all kinds of barriers in your way. There is the line of cars in front of you, "crawling" at a mere 45 miles per hour (the posted speed limit for this stretch of road). Then there are the hairpin turns which serve to not only present some pretty significant "maneuvering" obstacles, but also block clearly what lies beyond. In these instances, we may not want to obey the rules, but we are certainly safer when we do!

I think of the Ten Commandments as a set of rules, laid all out nice and neat, in one "tight package". Are they the only "rules" God sets out for his people - no, but they really encompass a great deal of expectations for our safety. Rather than looking upon the "rules" God establishes as burdensome and restrictive, we might do well to consider them in the light of how they are intended to keep us safe. “You must not have any other god but me." (Exodus 20:3) You may be more familiar with this in the traditional King James, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Two words stick out: MUST and BUT. Both are quite strong words. No other option exists - no other person, object, or "great man or woman" must have the place we give to God in our lives. The place within us designed to house God's Spirit is not to be filled with any other. We must look at what it means to not have any other god. See the little "g" there? The instruction is NOT to have any other God (as there is only one God). The instruction is to not have any other god. What is the difference? Plainly put, any other "god" would be anything within our attention or affections which occupies the place designed for God.

Anything which captures our attention (even for a moment in time) has the ability to move upon our affections. It has the ability to draw us in - slight movement toward that object may even be imperceptible at times, but it is movement toward it. Therefore, focusing on what captures our attention the most is a starting place in evaluating if anything or anyone else has moved upon our affections! When we hold anyone or anything else in this important place of affection in our lives, we become consumed by the time and energy it takes to maintain this affection. Affection is built when it is cultivated - therefore, if we invest in the right things, we build the right affections. The instruction to us is to have but one object of our affection - God himself. Why? When he has this focus in our lives, he is free to direct our course, keeping us safe in the "hairpin turns" of life!

We may resist the "rule" of having but one object of both attention and affection, but when we get this right, all other relationships we have fall into line. They actually get a little easier, depth of growth occurs, and extreme value begins to be placed upon what we have within that relationship! It isn't that we value the relationship more than God, it is that we come to value it because God has made it "more" by his presence within it. The problems we seem to focus on the most seem to be a little less significant, almost as though we have been given new energies to work them out. This is why God tells us of the importance of keeping him first. If we get this right - the rest will work itself out! Just sayin!

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