The same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you

Many first-time Bible readers are surprised to learn that the New Testament begins with a genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16), Jesus’ family tree. Those same readers are even more surprised when Rahab shows up on the list.

Most of us know about her. She is almost always mentioned by in the Bible as “Rahab the harlot.” But that’s not all. Rahab was also a Canaanite-who were the hated enemies of Israel. Her most exemplary deed was telling a lie. Think about that. A Harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. You wouldn’t think she would have much chance of making the list, but there she is.

You can read about Rahab in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6….

It’s a great story with many lessons, but we mustn’t miss the point that Rahab was a harlot. That was her “trade.” The men hid there because people would be accustomed to seeing strangers come and go at all hours of the night. We also can’t deny the fact that Rahab told a bald-faced lie. Is there anything good we can say about her? Yes! She was a woman of faith. You don’t have to take my word for it. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith Rahab …” She was a believer!

Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia-big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it’s all very intimidating to them. To many in the world today, Jesus seems too good to be true.

This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself “the friend of sinners,” and he said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10)

The same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you. I invite you in Jesus’ name to come and be forgiven. He’s already made the first move. The next step is up to you.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO STUMBLE?

It can mean anyone of the following:

1. To fall into sin or waywardness
2. To make an error or to blunder
3. To experience obstacles that allow us to fall
4. To trip in walking or running
5. To walk unsteadily or clumsily
6. To trip

God does not want us to stumble through life. God wants us to walk with Him through life confidently.

TWO KEYS TO AVOID STUMBLING

We need to know if there are any aspects we need to be on the lookout for. Proverbs tells us that to avoid stumbling we need to have two things:

1. Wisdom – Knowing and doing right
2. Common sense

Proverbs 3:21-23 have two goals: wisdom—that is, knowing and doing right—and common sense. Don’t let them slip away, for they fill you with living energy and bring you honour and respect. They keep you safe from defeat and disaster and from stumbling off the trail.

We need to take advantage of the wisdom God has given and the wisdom He wants to continue giving us. Common sense is our ability to have sound and prudent judgment.
We must use these keys that God has given us and they will help us walk without stumbling.

The Right Perspective

Philippians 1:19-26

The way we perceive our situation often has a greater impact on our life than the situation itself. You’ve probably seen this for yourself in those who profess to know Christ. One Christian goes through debilitating medical treatments with such trust in God that contentment and joy overshadow the suffering, whereas another believer becomes anxious and resentful.

The setting for today’s passage is Paul’s house arrest. Although the apostle had committed no crime, he found himself unjustly locked up. But despite such dire and seemingly hopeless conditions, he knew he had nothing to lose. If Caesar decided to have him executed, he’d immediately be with Christ, and that was a much better option in Paul’s eyes. If, on the other hand, God allowed him to live, then he could continue a fruitful ministry for the kingdom. His conclusion was, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

When we are saved by the blood of Christ, Paul’s statement is true for us as well. Our life is intricately bound up with our Savior, and we can never be separated from Him by any circumstance—not even death.

The word circumstance comes from two Latin roots meaning “around” and “to stand.” Therefore, our circumstances are those things that stand around us, but Christ is the person who dwells within us. Everything we face, He faces. Our difficult and painful situations are an invitation to let Christ shine though us. When He is our life, then no matter what happens, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus as He leads us through whatever lies ahead.

Church

We all know there are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people. However, we should never use this as an excuse for giving up on the church or settling for mediocrity and dysfunction. Such a fatalistic attitude shows that we don’t understand God’s view of the church or appreciate the great cost Christ paid to make us His bride.

Although many churches today are having problems, the Lord hasn’t left us to solve them on our own but has given us guidance in His Word. The best example in Scripture of a church rife with problems is the one at Corinth. The apostle Paul spent 18 months there establishing the church and giving them a firm foundation upon which to build; but after he left, problems erupted. Eventually they sent him a letter informing him of divisions, immorality, and other issues that had taken root in the church. The book of 1 Corinthians is Paul’s response, and the answers he gives are still relevant to churches today.

If we tried to trace their problems back to one root cause, it would be an independent attitude. The result was a chaotic church that lacked unity and love because many were charting their own course and refusing to submit to one another. They began to listen to false apostles and adopted all sorts of aberrant beliefs and practices.

In chapter 12 of his letter, Paul addresses their independent spirit by describing the church the way God sees it—as one body with many parts that differ in form and purpose but work together for the proper functioning of the whole. In fact, we are the body of Christ here on earth, and He is our head. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His church to carry out His work. Many have likened us to His hands and feet as we follow His will for us both individually and corporately. And Christ as our head reveals His mind through His Word and His Spirit, who helps us interpret it.

The problem comes when we decide to follow our own agendas instead of listening to our head and living with each other as He directs. Philippians 2:3 tells us what kind of attitude we are to have: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

This was the attitude Christ displayed when He humbled Himself, came to earth as a servant, and died on the cross to save us (vv. 5-8). Yet the Corinthians lacked this attitude, as do many churches today, and the result was devastating.

First of all, they failed to recognize their unity in Christ and God’s sovereign choices regarding spiritual gifts. Paul reminded the Corinthians that Christ’s body is one with many members, and each member is baptized by the Spirit into the body at the time of salvation (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Their connection was based on who they were in Christ, not in how they served Him.

In fact, believers are not meant to function in the same way because each one has been created with a unique personality, physical attributes, and mental capabilities, and has been given a spiritual gift specifically chosen by the Spirit (vv. 4-11). In this way, God equips the church to accomplish the various ministries effectively.

Second, some of the Corinthians felt insignificant and unimportant. Instead of seeing the value of each spiritual gift, they began rating them according to apparent importance. However, in God’s eyes every gift and member is essential for the proper functioning of the church. Paul likened the situation to a foot claiming not to be a part of the body simply because it wasn’t a hand (v. 15). But a foot is essential whether it’s noticed or not. The same is true for those with less prominent gifts. Just because they aren’t up front preaching doesn’t make them less valuable or unneeded.

Third, others in the Corinthian church had an overinflated view of themselves and their spiritual gifts. They thought they didn’t need others in the church, but Paul said, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (v. 21). Can you imagine what would happen if your body parts started to act independently of one another? How could you walk if your leg and foot were each trying to go in opposite directions? The same dysfunction results when members of a church think too highly of themselves, act independently, and discount the contributions of others.

Clearly an independent spirit wreaks havoc in a church. When some members choose not to use their spiritual gifts whether through feelings of inadequacy or indifference, the church as a whole is robbed of what God placed them there to contribute. The result is a partially paralyzed body. And in a similar way, the church is crippled when members don’t value or submit to each other.

When all the members focus on their common union with Christ, follow Him as their head, and use their individual gifts to serve one another with an attitude of humility and love, the church functions properly, believers are blessed, and God is glorified. And that is my prayer for you and for your church

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, my beloved! #Valentine’s Day is about expressing love and care for another. Though the holiday is based loosely on Saint Valentinus and his actions that caused him to be martyred, it has been commercialized and materialized. “The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote ‘from your Valentine’ as a farewell to her.” Look at this man’s actions and you can see his heart. He obviously had a heart for God and God’s people. Don’t wait for #ValentinesDay to share your love. Remember the two Greatest Commandments— love God and love others as yourself. Life is about love—not just on Valentine’s Day but in every waking moment and every breath we take. I love you all so much—thanks for being people who desire to know Jesus’ heart and to live the Gospel out loud.

No Greater Love

John 15:12-14

Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children. There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn’t do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn’t surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.

Wouldn’t you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are. In fact, the Lord’s love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him. What a tremendous sacrifice and cost! Jesus’ death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally. What’s more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever. Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life—and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.

How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way! Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care? Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received.

Created to Love God

Deuteronomy 5:6-11

Jealousy is an undesirable, negative emotion, which is fueled by anger or selfishness. According to James 3:16, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” From today’s passage, however, we see that there is a different perspective on the word when it’s applied to God: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Deut. 5:9).

This seems like a contradiction, but jealousy has a second, more positive meaning, which has almost been lost in our modern culture. It describes God’s vigilance in guarding our love for Him. Since we were created to love and worship Him, anything that competes for our devotion is a just cause for His jealousy.

The most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Without this complete devotion to Him, we will pursue our own interests and neglect godly principles and goals. No idol—whether a person, dream, pursuit, or possession—is worthy of worship. But a holy and just God, whose deep love for mankind moved Him to send His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place, deserves and demands our total love and loyalty.

God hates idols of every kind because He knows anything that draws our attention away from Him is dangerous. In fact, focusing only partially on the Lord is a sure way to stumble, get wrapped up in sin, and miss His blessings. For both our protection and His glory, the heavenly Father calls us to be true to Him by living in an obedient, loving, and worshipful manner.

Closer than you know

“He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

Elijah, the prophet of God during the darkest times of Israel, suffered great depression. The nation became idolatrous and worshiped Baal under the leadership of Queen Jezebel, the Phoenician wife of King Ahab, who wanted to kill Elijah. She had already killed other prophets, and Elijah was the only prophet left. So Elijah ran away, went into the wilderness, sat under a broom tree and asked God to take his life. However, God had a plan for Elijah. He told him to go to Mount Horeb to meet Him there and to show him that he was not alone. When a gentle whisper came, he knew it was God. To hear a whisper requires closeness. God was right there all along, closer than Elijah thought. This story reminds us that whatever problems we are facing, God is always there, beside us, whispering in a soft voice. All we need to do is to listen carefully. *********************Prayer
Dear God and loving Father, I would like to thank you for being there always right by my side. You are indeed faithful who will never leave me or forsake me. Help me Lord to listen carefully to your gentle whisper. Amen.