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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Recently I attended a fundraising banquet for a local ministry. These take place all the time and can tend to become standard fare when you work closely with non-profit organizations. I won’t soon forget sitting there as the video played. On the video, a woman was walking down a street in Lexington narrating her former life. She showed where she lived, turned tricks, and fought to survive. She was a prostitute using her earnings to support an addiction to drugs. This was 2017. This was Lexington. This is a person I could introduce you to.
My life’s experience is far removed from hers, but my need for a Savior isn’t. Her choices and mine are not held against us in Christ because of God’s astounding grace. The story of Rahab is fascinating. A prostitute becomes the vessel through which God’s people will secure victory in battle, and she will be saved as a result. The story goes on to say that Rahab lived amongst the Israelites long after the battle.
God is in the business of using unlikely people to do extraordinary things, all because of His grace. Rahab’s story is scandalous. Effectively God worked through a prostitute to bring about His will. Doesn’t God know how shameful her business and life was? Why would God include this story in the Old Testament? Won’t people get the wrong idea about God’s perfection and holiness? I think that’s exactly why He included it. God wants us to see that regardless of how far we run from His love and purpose for our lives, He can and will save us and use us--no matter who we are or how far we’ve wandered from Him.
Take time to thank God for His grace. Thank Him for the forgiveness you’ve received and the freedom you now walk in.Share Tweet
If you’d like to know more about a great ministry to street prostitutes in Lexington, visit the Natalie’s Sisters website.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23 (NIV)
Recency bias is an interesting concept. In short, you forget the past and let what you saw last outweigh better informed reasoning. In financial investing and sports, this is part of the current vernacular. I think the same principle can relate to our spiritual lives as well. We think God views us, mainly, based on our relatively recent behavior. The longer I avoid “major” sins, the more comfortable and connected I feel to God. The more recent I fail and choose sin, I feel less comfortable and more disconnected from God.
As a pastor, I could fall into a trap thinking that I’ve matured beyond the need for grace. In some regards, I’m a “professional” Christian. I have learned more about the Bible than most, and I’ve been acting like a Christian almost my entire life. Recency bias could trick me into thinking that because I’ve been a Christ follower for decades now, God’s grace isn’t as awe-inspiring and necessary as it once was. I could think that my need for grace is effectively less than someone whose consistent actions demonstrate their life is far from God.
As Paul points out in Romans 3:23, we are all in need of God’s grace. The forgiveness and love we receive when we believe, confess, repent, and are baptized into Christ means that our sins are no longer counted against us. Whether you chose Christ twenty years ago or twenty minutes ago, you did nothing to earn a right relationship with God; you simply accepted His free gift of salvation.
As we learned from Rahab this week, there is no one too far from God’s love that He can’t invite into His family and use for His glory.
I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. - Joshua 2:9 (NIV)
In Joshua 2:9-13 Rahab gives testimony to God’s power. She shares about God’s mighty acts and the impact they had on her people. I can’t help but think these words reinforced God’s promise to the Israelite spies that day. It’s one thing to assume God will give you the victory He promised; it’s another to hear the enemy reinforce that belief too.
There is power in first hand-testimony. Whether it’s a courtroom, a restaurant review, a shopping experience, or educational guidance, there is something powerful about hearing from another person about their perspective and experience. And so it is with us.
Have you tapped into the power of personal testimony about God’s grace in your life? Have you developed the natural tendency to share how He’s changed you? For me, it can feel foreign or awkward to share about God, but the power of personal testimony is what God uses to bring His love to people all the time.
Reading the story of Rahab from Joshua reminds me of God’s grace and it also reminds me of the power of testimony. Let’s share God’s work in our lives more today and throughout this Holiday season. Let’s use our everyday, ordinary conversations to do it. Rahab didn’t have a prepared speech or Bible education; she simply gave testimony to what she’d seen and heard.
Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” - Joshua 6:22 (NIV)
We’ve been learning from Rahab’s story recorded in the book of Joshua this week, but there is another story from the Old Testament that also comes to mind. Joseph is a young man who is sold into slavery. Amazingly he ends up with a nice job and with all his needs met only to be thrown into prison for doing the right thing. In prison, he helps others the best he can and has a chance to be freed as a result, except someone forgets. The Bible tells us that Joseph was forgotten and thus he stayed locked up in prison.
In Joshua 6:22 we are told that Rahab was not forgotten. God and His people made good on their promise to rescue her. All throughout the history of wars and civilizations you can find tales of spies and traitors who got what a foreign government promised them and there are also those who didn’t. It would have been convenient and easy for Joshua to forget Rahab. God’s people are thematically taught to avoid sin and sinful people. Yet God, through Joshua, brought Rahab and her family into God’s family. Verse 25 of chapter 6 ends with a note, “and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”
God did not forget Rahab, and though delayed for some time, God did not forget Joseph. Both experienced God’s rescue and blessing. Though I don’t know your level of personal righteousness, I do know that God has made provision for you to be part of His family and it’s not based on personal merit. In Jesus Christ, God has removed the dividing line between our imperfection and His perfection.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient - Hebrews 11:31 (NIV)
On Wednesday we talked about Rahab’s testimony. She spoke to the Israelite spies about the power of God that she was aware of. She puts her life on the line to help them complete their mission. Fast forward a few thousand years and her name shows up again in Scripture. Matthew 1 records that Jesus’ lineage includes Rahab. Our Savior came to be through the family line of a prostitute! Rahab was the mother of Boaz who redeemed Ruth. Turns out Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother and on we go to Joseph, the husband of Mary.
It doesn’t stop there. Apparently, Rahab’s act of courage and fear of God was worthy of note by the writer of Hebrews, too. The family of God is full of people who didn’t measure up. Hebrews 11 includes the names of heroes of the faith and almost all of them have notable flaws. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others are praised for their faith yet had obvious issues. Regardless, God invited them into His family and leveraged their faithfulness to further His purposes.
Rahab’s life stands as clear testimony that no one is too far gone. God’s grace can show itself in a brothel and it can show itself wherever you are. Many of us are long past dark and winding roads of a life devoid of God, but we must remember that it’s God’s grace alone that has brought us into His family. Let’s live in such a way that at the end of our days it could be said of us, “By faith, we followed Jesus daily wherever He led.”