Friday, November 15, 2013

A Team in the Spotlight

Amos 3:2
2Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
The people of Israel were God's special people, set apart from the rest. God made to them promises that He did not make to others. But as the NKJ Study Bible states with covenant promises there are covenant responsibilities. As said in worship service repeatedly, "there are conditions." The people of Israel assumed that because they were God's special people they were excluded from judgment for their misdeeds or didn't have to pay a price. But God said, "I will punish you for all your iniquities." To walk with God is a covenant relationship. But to stay with God you have to uphold your part. God is always in the same place as He was when you left Him. The key is, "you walked away." You cannot walk together if you walk away. And you cannot walk away from God and think you will not incur difficulty when you were the one who initially agreed to be part of His set apart people, His special people. To walk together you have to be in agreement. It's like teamwork. The people of Israel were collectively off because of their choice to disregard the agreement. So they were not in sync and God had to call them out.
When I was in high school we had a performing dance group called Modern Dance Theatre or MDT. It was a six period class followed by two to three hour rehearsals. Performances were done at half time for basketball and football games, the school talent show and we put on our own full length school concert in the spring. We often had six weeks or less to learn a full dance routine for half time shows. But everyone had to learn it which meant you had to know every step, every slight movement of the arm, neck, shoulder, hip, etc. You had to learn how to step together, turn together, stop together. Everything had to be in complete sync. Any deviation by anyone from the routine could easily throw off the dance. We were even in the same costume. We made an agreement even in auditions that you had to work as a team. In other words, it wasn't just about you.  If you did not step right, Mrs. Feinberg had permission to call you out.  I learned not only to see my own strengths and weaknesses in a routine but my teammates could see them as well and vice versa. We had to learn how to show one another the right way so the dance routine would be right in front of hundreds of people. To be in a spotlight and set apart, it had to be right. It is the same when you are one of God's people. You are in the spotlight whether for the right reason or not both individually and collectively.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

By God's Mighty Hand

Psalm 33:16
16No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
The psalmist spoke of the Lord's sovereignty or the Lord's absolute authority to make anything happen whether it is winning a war or deliverance from any situation. No man can do what God does. Samson thought his strength was in his hair. Yes, his hair was to be a reflection of the relationship and call with God but ultimately his strength came from the Lord. No enemy can take anything from those who are redeemed by the Lord unless given permission as shown in the book of Job. No one can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps no matter what the world tells them. Any success, any achievement, any blessing, any healing, any deliverance is from the Lord himself. The Lord can use instruments such as His people but it is He who does it. Anyone who says that the Lord had nothing to do with what they have is foolish indeed. The Word of God says in James 1:16-17 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. The apostle James was talking about loving God under trials. We are not to just love God in the good times but to love Him when things are not so good.
Nearly two weeks ago something happened. And every tear I cried, I cried out not because I was upset but because I was thanking God. I was made aware yet again of His saving grace, His mercy and His deliverance from the hand of the enemy. I was made aware once again that it is by His hand that I am here. I am fully reminded that it is because of God that I have anything, even to those who believe it is less than what they have achieved. But as we went over in our Bible study conference call Tuesday night, John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing." So no matter what you have possessed; knowledge, wisdom, skills or physical possessions, what you have achieved,  what journey you are on, what you have been healed, delivered and set free from, know this, that it is only by God's mighty hand that you even stand. So give Him thanks in all things as the Word of God says.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dark but Lovely

Song of Solomon 1:5

5I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.

King Solomon wrote this song very early in his forty year reign as the NKJ Study Bible notes. King Solomon wrote a song of how his early marriage to a Shulamite woman came to be and their love for one another. The Song of Solomon is about romance and love as God has a place for it. In many places in the Bible, including Hosea, God is referenced as a husband uniting with the people of Israel. Israel, the people as a whole are often referenced as a wife or woman. And of course, The first humans mentioned are Adam and Eve as they were husband and wife. God made Eve for Adam. Adam asked God for a mate, and GOD created Eve and presented her to Adam. God and Adam had a friendship and dialogue with one another.  Marriage is also a reflection of the unity between us and God, therefore it must be weighed very carefully as it is supposed to be a ministry not only reflecting the most important relationship on earth from which everything is born but also to reflect the relationship we have God. But that is not the point of this scripture. It is only background information.

"Dark, but lovely," the Shulamite woman says. In the next scripture she says, "do not look upon me, because I am dark." The NKJ Study Bible notes that the Shulamite woman was aware of her beauty. Being dark did not determine her beauty or lack their of. It was simply her complexion from her long hours in the sun and she wanted King Solomon to look past her complexion. The NKJ Study Bible notes that she was not fair like the rest of the women in the court. Now Solomon had his choice of women but he wrote about the love he had with the Shulamite woman, who happened to be dark. Yes, this is going somewhere. Your beauty or your handsomeness should not be based on the color of your skin. However, we know we live in a society that has long lived along the color line. It is not only in America but I have also seen the difference in treatment in other places based on light vs. dark. There is even a product that many African-American women will easily recall when I say, "Dark and Lovely". Is the play on words a coincidence? Not likely. The product was created so African-American women could straighten their hair, to make them look, more lovely." The texture of your hair should not determine your beauty either, but again, society has often dictated what beauty is. God created you in His image therefore, as Psalm 139:14 says, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well." God's word even addresses an issue of color. Remember who created you, and you will remember your beauty no matter your complexion or the texture of  your hair, for His works are good.

P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support awareness of how to recognize child abuse and how to stop it!! The store manager said there are no other books like it in the store. She asked that I autograph the remaining copies because she wants them on the shelf as "it is a very nice book." So for those who missed out, you can still get your autographed copy of "Shh Don't Tell" at Barnes & Noble on 8123 Honeygo Blvd in White Marsh while supplies last.