Is there something beautiful in your life you have been overlooking?
Joshua chapter 2 features two spies who are sent to Jericho to gather information about the city prior to the Israelite invasion. Their job, blend in to a culture foreign to them, one in which they didn’t belong. As Christians doesn’t life in the workplace sometimes seem just like this; different ethics, language, and temptations we’re not prepared for.
The spies encounter Rahab, a pagan prostitute and owner of the establishment. Her house, an inn, was the best place to gather information, that is, until they were labeled spies. In a startling turn of events, Rahab not only agrees to hide them from the authorities, she lies to protect them. Her motivation: she fears God and believes He is the one true God of heaven and earth. In the most unlikely of places the Israelites encounter a person of faith.
…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. Joshua 2:11 NLT
In exchange for harboring them, Rahab asks for a guarantee she and her family won’t be destroyed when the Israelites invade. She is given a red cord to hang in her window, a symbol she has chosen to side with the God of Israel.
One has to wonder, how will Rahab be remembered after she is gone. After all, she’s a prostitute and a liar. Yet, the Bible chooses to remember her as a person of faith.
It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31 NLT
D.R. Davis in his commentary on Joshua states, “Genuine faith never rests content with being convinced of the reality of God but presses on to take refuge in God.”
How will you be remembered? Will people remember you by an occasional good deed or will you be remembered for your faith in God, your refuge?
Carl Sagan was an atheist who had this to say about the power a book possesses.
“What an astonishing thing a book is,” marveled [Carl] Sagan. “It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.”
Sagan’s comment certainly explains the desirability of books through the ages. It would also seem to explain the power and effectiveness of the Bible. Its author, God, is not dead and its words are timeless. That being said, one has to wonder why we don’t read the Bible more.
He’s another quote from my upcoming book.
“Patty loved animals as much as I did. We’ve had a pet of some kind ever since we’ve been married. When we set out to build our first house we couldn’t wait to fill it with animals. Not to the extent Noah filled the ark, but Patty wanted a kitten and I coveted a black Labrador retriever…By the time we finished building, our menagerie consisted of three species of birds, two large tanks of fish, a dog and two kittens. The arrival of our first child changed everything.”
I find this image to be a picture of contentment, which is probably why I love it. It has great elements: friends, a favorite pet, a favorite hot beverage all in a relaxing setting. Wouldn’t it be great if life was served up to us like this on a daily basis?
I find it hard to be content when I’m always on the go, busy with this and that, or striving for material things that never seem to completely satisfy. Apostle Paul’s addresses the subject of contentment in his letter to the Philippians.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12
According to Pastor Matt Chandler, contentment is something we must learn. It does not come naturally. We can learn contentment from staying connected to the source of truth (scripture), by remembering God’s past provision, and by being grateful for things we already have.
Contentment isn’t a path to complacency, rather, it involves actively striving to be a f.r.o.g (someone who Fully Relies On God).
After an exhausting day at work, I peeled off my sweaty clothes and tossed them on a pile of laundry. But before I could take up residence on the couch, there were a few household items I needed to take care of. Feeding “big boy” (our parrot fish) and walking Jake and Brody (our two dachshunds) topped the list.
After finishing a relaxing walk with my pups, I grabbed the stack of dirty clothes and tossed it in the washing machine. A couple hours later I transferred the load to the dryer.
I grabbed a fresh towel and a wash cloth from the dryer the next morning as I prepared to start my day. While taking several gulps of coffee, I noticed wads of paper scattered across the floor. I recognized the fragments immediately. They were “scraps,” thoughts I collected for chapter 8 of my upcoming book, which interestingly enough dealt with the issue of distraction.
Accusing thoughts surfaced–Brody! It’s a proven fact he loves to shred anything made of paper. But how did he get ahold of my precious thoughts? Yet, he didn’t look guilty as he rested quietly head in paws. I didn’t know what to think.
Moments later, I visited the dryer again. This time rummaging for a pair of socks. More wads of paper appeared among the clothes. As it turns out, this was my doing!
If I had taken the time to capture these thoughts in my manuscript instead of carrying them around for weeks in my shirt pocket, this calamity could have been averted. In my moment of anxiousness I was reminded of this verse of scripture:
“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ASV
You may be wondering what losing scraps of paper has to do with this passage of scripture. I had the same thought and considered putting this story on ice. I decided to ponder the matter for further and pray about it. A thought came to me this morning. The source of most of my scraps used in this blog find their origin in bathing myself in the peace God provides.
I have to chuckle. From now on, whenever I see, “guarding your thoughts,” (as in folded scraps of paper in my pocket) it will remind me of my washed and dried scraps of paper.
I heard a sermon recently about being an authentic Christian. I wouldn’t describe my pastor’s words as comforting. I have been thinking about two words ever since; grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
I understand that grace and truth are a part of the Christian’s salvation experience. But for some reason we followers of the gospel end up gravitating towards one of two camps over the course of time as we journey.
Grace without truth is meaningless. You might know them as chameleon Christians who are tossed by the wind when they encounter change or challenging issues. Conversely, truth without grace leads to legalism. Often times people find them to be an angry, condescending bunch when others make different choices than they do.
Having found myself in each camp at one time or another in my life, my pastor’s message troubled me. Grace and truth are both needed as we journey. Truth says to me, “You know right from wrong, yet you still make wrong choices sometimes. You are in constant need of grace.” Grace whispers, “I have embraced you time each time you have asked for it, so why not demonstrate it to others by loving God and your neighbor.”
We do need both. Truth grounds us in the faith, and lovingly extending grace to others affirms our witness. Thank you Pastor H. for bringing this to my attention.