Stay Fly Girls!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Co-Minglers

Judges 2:2  " You were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead you were to destroy their alters.  Why have you disobeyed my command?"

Not too many years ago there was a message that was prevalent in American culture: "Separate, but equal."  This message, and subsequent judicial ruling used to justify or explain segregation, held sometimes opposing connotations by the two races it effected.  For black and white America it allowed the two races to function in separate worlds with their own economies and cultural norms.  Well... we know how all that turned out.  But let us rewind a few more years, how about a few more centuries, and look back at the Israelites and the mandate God gave them to live apart from pagan society.

Judges 2:1-3  " The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim with a message for the Israelites.  He told them "I brought you out of Egypt into this land I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you.  For your part, you were not to make any covenants with people living in this land; instead you were to destroy their altars.  Why then have you disobeyed my command?  Since you have done this, I will no longer drive out the people living in your land.  They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you."

Oh, how we see that God means business when He gives us guidelines to follow.  Verse 1 outlines God's promise - He will never break His covenant with us, verse 2 tells us His parameters - don't make covenants with these people, and verse 3 lays down the penalty for not following His guidance - the people who have invaded will be constant thorns in our sides.  God instructed His holy people to go and take over the territory He had given them.  For one reason or another, fear/ laziness/ disobedience, they did not do exactly what God told them to do, so what happened... Read Judges 1: 19-36 and take a look at how the Israelites compromised in their task.  Not only did they disobey God by not destroying the alters of the pagan gods in the land, but they began to worship these gods (Judges 2:12-13, 19) and even commingle with he people of the lands they were occupying (Judges 3:5).  Now, now, don't be so judgemental!  Take that look of shock and dismay off your face.  What? You can't believe that God's chosen people would so flagrantly disobey His rules, huh?  Just think, after all of the blessings and favor God has showered upon them, they make it a point to go an live any kind of way.  Hmph!  Some nerve, right?

Well let's take a look at our present day culture.  As Christians, we are to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-14).  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16.  Yet how many of us allow ourselves to commingle so seamlessly into the culture that we are no more recognizable than a needle in a haystack.  We can become so entrenched in the worldview and culture around us that we compromise our own sense of religion and Christ's influence on our lives.  God has called us to set ourselves apart from the world at large - figuratively.  Although the though of moving to a state, country, or continent of only disciples of Christ sounds appealing (I think...), that's just not something that is going to happen.  So in the meantime, we must work against the system that can so easily ensnare us. 

This is our test. 

Can we seek God in the times when a little compromise could lead to a large setback?  " The Lord left certain nations in the land to test those Israelites who had not participated in the wars of Canaan... These people were left to test the Israelites - to see whether they would obey the commands the Lord had given to their ancestors through Moses." Judges 3:1 & 4.  How are you doing on your test?  We have been called to set ourselves apart - apart from the worldly, the un-Godly, the hedonistic.  It's not easy honey (trust me, I know firsthand), but as we focus on God and not the lusts of our eyes and flesh, we gain the strength we need to move forward.  So enough with all this commingling!  Separate yourself from that which hinders your progress toward he high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Start shutting those pagan idols down!  You know, in a Godly type of way...with finesse ;-) 

Stay fly girls!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The New Normal

2 Timothy 4:3-4
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."

It's interesting to me when the Bible starts pointing fingers.  Not necessarily at us, but at "them".  "They", them, *their*, not you, me, or I, of course.  It's like putting us on notice in a 'round about, passive aggressive type of way... I like to think of it as conviction.

Today's passage, my lovelies, is an ominous revelation into what has become our present society.  Our dear Paul is mentoring Timothy in the ways of the Lord and on how to lead his people. Paul is commanding and encouraging Timothy to preach the word - to "convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" 2 Timothy 4:2b - and not to dilute it or stray from it.  Should be simple: unroll the scrolls or pull down the tablets from the bookshelf and tell the congregation what they say. Easy peasy, right?!

Well in a perfect, sinless, heavenly world it might be that easy (key word: might).  But you and I both know that A&E (Adam & Eve) changed the game and put an end to sinless perfection.  So here is Timothy in a town with a church that needs some guidance.  And there is Paul, in jail for preaching the gospel of Christ and sticking to his convictions.  If that were you and there was some dude or lady in prison calling you (collect more than likely...), telling you how to be a leader, how would you feel about it?  Maybe a little sceptical about what they were saying?  Maybe just a little.

The challenge that we face as believers, spiritual mentors, and individuals in today's society is that it becomes easy to boost up the people and ideas that conform to our way of life and way of thinking.  If I am an over eater and indulge my cravings for food with reckless abandon, I am inclined to ascribe to a doctrine that allows for my indulgences.  Likewise, if I am tired of my husband and am ready to peace-out, I am inclined to ascribe to a doctrine that allows for me to leave my spouse.  We are prone to link ourselves to the ideologies that are in accordance with the way we want to live.  We would rather support a lie that allows for us to live in comfort than adhere to God's rules that bring us closer to perfection.  This is what Paul was getting at when he sent this message to Timothy.

"According to their own desires...they will turn their ears away from the truth..."

And just to be clear, Paul's "they" and "their" is talking about us, that's you and me. FYI.

As believers we have to be mindful to adhere to the gospel. Even if what we read in the Bible or hear in a biblical message convicts us about an area that needs improvement we must comply.  Don't be "turned aside by fables" which is bible talk for "don't believe the hype" or "don't fall for the lie".  The devil is crafty and he will plant seeds of disobedience and rebellion in your heart that will cause your mind to regard sin as acceptable.  Sin is unavoidable - but it is also not to be touted as an acceptable way of life.  The bar has been set so low for levels of acceptable behavior, attire, and speech that it is hard to follow Godly guidance instead of the ungodly.  Spiritually discern and analyze with scripture any leader, mentor, or general guidance you receive.  God has given us a measuring stick - The Bible!  Use it as your baseline and you will gain God's perspective and not the world's.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." NKJV

Stay Fly Girls! And Happy New Year ;-)