Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Rahab’s Mystery November 16, 2009

Filed under: Romans,Teen Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 1:45 am

In Joshua 2, we read about a lady who loved her hometown, but came to love the God of the whole earth even more.  She lived in Jericho–a fortress city on the edge of Canaan.  Through some mysterious way, she believed the stories she heard about Moses, the warnings God gave the Egyptians, the Red Sea parting, and the fierce destruction about to come to her hometown.  She believed God’s promise to give her town and lots of surrounding land to these slaves coming out of Egypt and the desert.  She knew she needed a rescue plan!

(I love my hometown.  Do you love yours?  It would be hard for me to give it up, see it wiped out.  It would be hard to trust two strangers to keep their promise to save me and all my family.  But this story is mostly about faith in the God of the whole world so we don’t want to get side-tracked!)

“‘And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath….And she tied the scarlet cord in the window'” (Joshua 2:11; 21).

Rahab hid two spies, helped them escape, and tied a scarlet ribbon in her window to mark where she lived.  Her faith that God would keep his promises caused her to do all these things. She was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Abraham had this same kind of faith.  Paul says that

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong  in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’  (Romans 4:21-22) .

Rahab’s faith was counted by God in the same way.  Her faith was like Abraham’s.

The spies kept their promise and came back for her.  Her family were the only ones from Jericho to live!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Rehab is a reminder to us of what this grace is like.  No one else in her hometown believed.  No one else helped rescue two of God’s people.  Why her?  It was all about God.  God stirred her heart to love him more than she loved her hometown! That grace was the mystery that caused her to believe God was God of the whole earth, and not only of the descendents of Abraham.

The Old Testament makes more sense when we know what the New Testament says.  This mystery of the way God worked in Rehab’s heart is further explained in Ephesians where Paul tells us, “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,..” (Ephesians 1:4).  Rehab was not from Abraham’s family.  Her culture worshiped idols and even sacrificed their babies to them! She had nothing to do with the Jews. She probably had never met one before meeting the spies.

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:4).

Her faith and her actions help us remember there is a way of escape for all who believe in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the whole earth.

Why not ask God to give you a new heart like this and to give you full confidence that he will keep his promises?  You, too, can have this experiential faith that God will keep His promises and rescue us.

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Priceless

Filed under: Psalm — womenembracingfaith @ 1:23 am

Knowing Jesus personally in your own experience, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,  that are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…”  (Ephesians 1:18-19) is priceless.

This kind of knowledge is experiential–part of our heart-felt spiritual experience.  Because God is faithful, we can trust him.  Simply put, he keeps his promises! He directs his creative power in our direction.   That relationship is the reason for hope for today and tomorrow.

Even as a teenager, David knew about this kind of  experiential relationship with God.  In Psalm 13, he affirms his faith:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

See his resolution to continue expressing his faith, and his hope that once again his heart will be moved by God’s love for him.  We might be unmoved today, but we can persevere and endure by continuing to reaffirm our faith, waiting expectantly for our heart to be stirred again by his faithful and enduring love for us.  Jesus showed that love by going to the cross.  That is quite a demonstration.

 

Our Songbook November 9, 2009

Filed under: Psalm — womenembracingfaith @ 6:49 pm

“America’s Songbook” is the program for several productions each year in my community.  The goal is to keep American music and lyrics around for future generations.  The Psalms  are really the songbook of  God’s people.  Most of them were written by David, whom the historian called “the sweet psalmist of Israel” ( 2 Samuel 23:1).  Our purpose in reading them is to draw closer to God, to stir up our hearts to love Him and His purposes and ways more.  Reading them should put a song in our heart, and like “America’s Songbook,” they are to be passed on to the next generation.

Psalm 9

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you: I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

You could sing this to your own tune as you go about your day today.  It can be your resolution to “Rejoice in the Lord, always.  And again I say Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).  Ask the Holy Spirit to stir your emotions, as well as your will and determination, so that gladness and praise will be yours no matter  your circumstances this day.

As you read the rest of Psalm 9 and 10, notice that David’s praise centered around the Bible’s major theme: Redemption– that God will set everything right again through the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ!  Those who in arrogance, pride, and greed renounce God and scoff at His justice will be held to account (10:13), and “every knee shall bow, and every heart confess that Jesus is LORD.”

Always look for the great themes of  the Bible as you read a Psalm.  True religion engages the mind, the will, and our emotions.  Recounting these themes to yourself might stir up your emotions (as it did David’s),  and you will experience the love of Christ Jesus for you personally which is far better than knowing facts.  Knowing that you are His is priceless.

 

Psalm 28 November 4, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Moral Law,Teen Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 3:05 pm

The LORD is My Strength and My Shield—Of David

To you, O LORD, I call:  my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

Reading Proverbs everyday like we have this last month gives us principles on which to live wisely.  Proverbs remind me of the way less direct people talk.  They give examples or tell stories or talk around what they are really trying to get across. Not that that is bad communication; it is just less direct and to the point.  Like some less patient people, the commands of scripture are more directive!  Do not commit adultery.  Do not bear false witness.  Flee sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18). Contrast these directives with Proverbs 7:6-27:  For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness….Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

In all of these, sexual purity is the point.  No matter the style or the time or culture from which it was written.  In this case, from Moses to Solomon to Paul.  Look how different their circumstances, cultures, and times were.  Moses was wandering in the desert with a homeless people, Solomon was one of the world’s richest kings, and Paul was a missionary to non-Jews within the Roman Empire.  Inerrancy of scripture, though, teaches us that all the Bible is from God in some mysterious way–whether directive or not.

My point is that there are differences in style among the writers of the Bible.  Naturally that would be so.  But, that doesn’t mean interpreting its meaning is open to individual style and preference or cultural ways.  We need to remember this when reading through the Bible and seeking its truth for our life and knowledge of God.

At any rate, reading the Bible in our own language for ourselves is a hallmark of the Protestant Reformation.  It is a treasure to hold on to and pass on to our children and grandchildren.

And reading the Bible for ourselves shows us our need for mercy.  Who could ever really live as wisely as Proverbs calls us to do?  Who could ever be entirely sexually pure in mind, body, and desire?  That is why we need a Savior and why we need mercy from a just and sovereign God.  David sees this in Psalm 28.  He is crying out for the Holy Spirit to strengthen him and stir his heart to remember His Savior.

I hope He will stir our hearts today–to read His word, to remain sexually pure, to tell the truth.

Let’s read Psalms this month.

 

Halloween and Reformation Day November 2, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 3:27 am

We should all teach our children and remind ourselves of our Christian heritage.  October 31, 1513 is when Martin Luther tried to call the church back to the Bible.  His simple act of protest plus the invention of the printing press led to revivals across Europe as people began to read the Bible in their own language.  A cry to reform the worship and practice within the church rose as hearts were stirred when they began to understand the Bible’s teaching of  justification by faith ALONE.  This struggle continued all through the 1500’s until by the middle of the 1600’s the Protestants were able to declare their understanding of the Bible’s clear teaching on faith, worship, and the Christian life.  Several similar statements of  faith were published: The Baptist Statement of Faith, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Savoy Confession.  This was the REFORMATION which was so important to Western Civilization as to be a major division in every secular history book.

What difference does it make now?  Martin Luther should be honored for his courage and sacrifice in standing on the plain teaching of scripture:  “for by grace are you saved through faith…”  and “The just shall live by faith…”  John Calvin, a pastor in Switzerland, should be remembered for his faithful verse-by-verse explanation and application of the scripture.  His ability to apply the teaching of the Bible to the heart and everyday life led to many revivals of true religion and to many publications in English, German, and French.  He was very influencial on the British Puritans and their Scottish and American “friends.”

To be “REFORMED” today, means to be reforming all the time in this same tradition of revering the scriptures as God’s word to us — seeking to worship and live in ways that please God, using  the Confessions of Faith as a guide to what the Bible says, and holding on to salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone. Hearts have been stirred and lives changed, families strengthened and nations built on these reformed traditions.  It could happen again!

Try getting your 8-12 year old to read biographies of these men or their wives.  Having the four year old dress like Calvin instead of a pirate might not be the best idea!  Luther was known for his love of children and his ability to engage them in conversation; he could probably think of a way to teach this history lesson.