Monday, August 13, 2012

Rahab the Justified

                  The following text is derived primarily from Joshua 6.

                  In Joshua 6 we see the spies' promise to Rahab finally fulfilled, though not in any way the spies thought.  See the spies thought they would be the ones to spare Rahab, when it turns out God would be the one who would save her.  

                  See, God not only wanted glory in his perfect judgment of Jericho through the Israel's conquest.  Not only did he want to showcase his power  through tearing down the walls himself, he wanted to demonstrate his mercifulness in saving Rahab and her family.  See, Rahab's house was built into the wall.  So that when the walls came down her house would surely be destroyed.

                  But God didn't destroy her section of the wall, while all the world around her was literally crashing down, Rahab and her family alone were safe.  Rahab thought that the that the red thread hanging down from her window would be her salvation, when God proved to her and all the Israelites that it was her faith that saved her. 

                  However that wasn’t the best part…

                  See Rahab thought that escaping God's wrath was the real reward for her faith.  It wasn't.  Rahab was truly blessed through her adoption into the family of God.

                  Here was the Harlot Rahab, her name before was literally condemning against her.  However she finds a new identity in Israel, Rahab, wife of Salmon. (Matthew 1:5)  She is justified through her faith, and she shook of her old nature and old name and found a she was a new person in a new nation…

                  Here was Rahab of Jericho, before she was associated with great city whose walls proclaimed its strength an greatness.  However her name also testified of her and her city's unrighteousness before God and condemned her to God's judgment.  But through her faith, Rahab the Israelite is born; and in her new citizenship she is proclaimed as chosen of God.  She gains favor in the sight of God and saw she was not alone in her faithfulness…

                  Here was Rahab the sinner, she was powerless to save herself.  She thought that escaping physical death was her greatest blessing.  But she soon discovered her greater blessing is being reborn into the family of God.  She now has new life, and a stake in the inheritance of life after death.   

                  Rahab is the picture of what happens when a sinner is justified through faith and is adopted into the family of God.  Her witness has stood for thousands upon thousands of years proclaiming God as a God powerful in his mercy.   A testimony every believer carries with them as a child of God.  We have received countless blessings from God through Jesus' sacrifice.  So everyday it stands that we should be thankful for his gifts of mercy and grace to us.

                  And ultimately her greatest blessing is her title that is only reavelaed thousands of years later…

                  Rahab, the many, many greats grandmother of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sinking Ships

And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.  Genesis 7:23 KJV

As a kid, I was always fascinated by the Titanic, something about it just drew my interest in, and I learned everything I could about it. And it's funny how on the 100th anniversary of her sinking we can look back and see a message of how urgent our call to witness really is. 

Everyone on board the Titanic died. Maybe they didn't go down with the ship or freeze to death in the chilly Atlantic waters, but the all the survivors have since passed away. And no matter where their bodies lie now, they are all spending an eternity somewhere. I didn't wake up this morning and consider the fact that I might die today, and neither did they. And even til the end, many thought they were safe aboard a sinking ship.

Everyone that isn't in Christ is, figuratively speaking, aboard a sinking boat. It is our job as Christians to show them the safety of the lifeboat that is Christ. (Genesis 6, 7, 8.) Their boat may sink in a couple of days, or it may be many years but they are all headed towards the same fate. So we don't have time to pick and choose who and when, we must proclaim the gospel to everyone at all times, no matter what. 

Don't let anybody go down with the ship...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Love Covers Over

"Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."  Matthew 7:1-5 KJV

"Judgmental."  A word many feel describes the church today.  Many use it as an excuse to get out of going to church, claiming the members judge them an that makes them uncomfortable.  And while an unbeliever should feel uncomfortable in church, it should come from God's conviction instead of the congregation.

See the Pharisees, Scribes, and religious leaders of Jesus's day judged people left and right.  Sadly, many members of the church today have taken to making others' sins into a platform to parade their self-righteousness on.

Jeff Beckth once said it well by stating, "There is no such thing as good people and bad people.  There's only bad people and Jesus"

It doesn't make sense for a criminal to be the judge of another criminal, yet that's what we do whenever we condemn someone just because of their attitude, manner of dress, lifestyle, or even any sin they might be in.  That's right, you heard me, it's wrong for us to judge people by the sin they have/are committed/ing.

So many times we as Christians simply look at someone in sin, who's hardened their heart towards God and condemn them.  
When really it should break our hearts. 

What if God had judged you before you accepted Christ?  You'd have really been up a creek then.  But in his abundant love he didn't come to judge you.  Instead he said 'I love you and no matter how much you break my heart, I still love you.'  

So today stop judging and start loving, for "Love covers over a multitude of sins."  And ask God to break your heart for what breaks his.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Because I Know He Holds the Future"

          "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

The other day while talking with my mother, our conversation drifted to our friends who are overseas in Belgium at the moment.  They had been to Belgium before but things were different this time.  With all the "Debt-Ceiling" talk in Washington, and our country's spending addiction, the public opinion on Americans has fallen greatly.  Most citizens in Belgium can speak English, but because of their disdain for America they refuse to speak to our citizens.  

They tried to contact the local Baptist Church there.  But because the majority of the population is Muslim now, the mission board wouldn't disclose the names of the church leaders or their contact information.  

They ran out of money because inflation is so bad.  And they couldn't use their credit cards because they weren't European credit cards.  Actually, the problem wasn't that their credit cards were American.  The problem was that unlike European cards, their cards didn't hold any medical, occupational, or personal record type information on them.  And being a "AA" nation, didn't help them any.  

We discussed this as something akin to "The Mark of the Beast."

End times prophecy seems to be a big deal in the church today.  There are the "Left Behind" books, countless sermons, and books all discussing the events prophesied in the latter half of Revelation.  People seem to be engrossed in all things "Anti-Christ." 

And there seems to be a recurring mentality in the church of, "I we can survive until Jesus comes back.  If we can hold America together until we're ruptured.  Then everything thing will be alright."

Friends, "survival" was never what Christ wanted.

He wanted a church that would go out and "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."  (Mark 16:15 KJV)  What's written in Revelation wasn't put there so we could say, "Wow, I'm glad I won't be there."  No!  God showed John what he did, so: 
A.) We could warn those that reject him.  
B.) Those believers that go through that time would know what's to come.
C.) His ultimate glorification through his word.

We get so caught up by the deteriorating condition of the world, as if we're shocked by what's happening.  We feel like we can stop what's going to happen.  And when we're not "crusading," we're preparing little persecution fallout shelters.  

In case you missed it.  WE CANNOT STOP WHAT'S COMING.  Like the old preacher said, "I read the end of the book.  And Folk's, we win!"

Worrying and fearing what's going to happen is sin in case you didn't know.  It's doubting God, he already has you in the palm of his hand.  He's got control over every situation.  The safest place for you, is in God's will, and in case you've forgotten, his will is perfect.  And he can't use us when we're cowering in fear.  

I was thinking about the old hymn, "Because He Lives" today.  More specifically the line that reads...

"...Because I know he holds know he holds the future..."

Let me leave you with this thought...

God doesn't owe, nor has he ever promised anything to America...  But he promised the Church, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5

Monday, May 9, 2011

Growing in Blogging

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.  2 Peter 3:17-18  KJV
I'll be honest from the start and say, "Blogging" is very new to me.  So new in fact, that this is my very first blog.  But I figure that everyone that's ever blogged has had a start, so this is mine.

I've wanted to start this blog for a while now.  And I figured the beginning of Summer would be a good time to start.  The driving concept behind this blog as a whole is illustrations of God's word.

Inspired word of God.  Illustrations of that word.  Hence the title Inspired Illustrations.

This passage I've chosen, illustrates is the main reason I'm writing this.  So I can grow in my Christian walk.  I'm off to college next year, most likely one out of state away from my parents.  So I've taken on this project to help me, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord..."  So that I won't, "fall" in my stedfastness.

I find, that myself as with many other Christians, we think we're able to withstand the toughest of temptation on our own.  When the fact is, we're not.  I'm drawn to another passage where Jesus said.
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.   Mark 14:38 KJV
Here Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane hours before his crucifixion.  And not just any disciples, no!  These specifically were Peter, James, and John.  The three closest to Jesus while he was on Earth.  The three that had seen him on the Mount of Transfiguration.(Luke 9:27-36)  And yet they folded when they were tested.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  1 Corinthians 10:12 KJV
Oh, they said they would die for Jesus.  Peter swore he would never let any harm come to Christ.  But "The flesh is weak..." and before the day was over they all left the man they had been disciples of for years, for dead.  Peter even denied knowing Jesus three times before morning.

The statistics for Christian Youths that give up their faith in college is staggering.  Ninety-Percent have left the church by their Senior year in college.  Ninety-Percent!  

And in talking with my peers on this subject, they all say something to the effect, "That won't be me," or "I'm firm in my beliefs."  And yet the statistics don't lie.  They sound just like Jesus's disciples.  They swore to follow him to death, we swear to live for him no matter what.  But just like Peter, James, and John, the Christian Youths of America are dropping like flies.

So that's why I'm writing this.  Because I'm a disciple.  Because I'm a youth, about to enter college.  And I'm weak.  No.  Actually, I am nothing, without Christ.(John 15:5)  And if I ever think I'm strong enough to endure temptation, then I'm already doomed to failure.  Without daily seeking him in his word, I'll become  part of the "Ninety-percent."    

So, my prayer for my fellow Christians today, especially our youths, is "Pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
My prayer for this Blog, is that God would use it for his glory.  For it to be a tool of his to grow me, and whoever reads it.  For it to never be a "Stumbling Block," to anyone.  And that I would always seek him first in it.
And finally, my prayer for myself is that I would, "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."