(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 08 Mar 2015)
BEING A MAN/WOMAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
DO I MATTER TO GOD?
MH 370 from Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur disappeared without a trace. Numerous countries put their resources together to search for the missing plane. Sophisticated airplanes, ships and submarines combed the ocean and land tirelessly but to no avail. Many theories did the rounds but none of them came true. Manmade scanning systems and methods have limitations and flaws.
God is not limited by anything. We can never escape God. No matter what we have done or how far we run, we can’t hide from God. We may lose sight of God but God always has us in His sight. There are about 7 billion people in this world. Sometimes we might be tempted to think that we don’t matter to God compared to the staggering statistic of the world population. We might wonder if God even bothers about us.
One day we visited Liju and Shiny. As usual I spent a lot of time and attention on Shiny. Liju amusedly asked if he ever came in the radar of my vision. He joked that he probably needed to do some antics like Tom and Jerry to get my attention.
Often that’s our heart’s position with God too. On Sunday mornings when we see the worship team or the pastor or some other spiritual leader, we may think that we are insignificant compared to ‘these spiritual leaders’ in God’s Kingdom. We might sit through the church service calmly but implore God silently to touch us or look at us.
The Lord says that His eyes are upon us. None of us are hidden from Him. He wants to draw our attention to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him’. The Lord is searching for people whose hearts are perfected to him.
Rahab’s life exemplifies such a heart. Let’s look at her story.
The Israelites had been in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses and the older generation had passed away. Joshua was their leader now and the battle of Jericho was the first battle that they were about to face in their lives. They must have been under a lot of pressure. They would have planned meticulously and ensured that there was no room for mistake.
In this context, Joshua sends two men to spy the land. Joshua 2:1 says, ‘Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.’ 40 years back Moses had sent spies and the plan had backfired. As a result of it, the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness. Despite that precedent, Joshua sends two spies again. He must have been compelled by the Sovereign Lord.
The spies stayed in the house of Rahab. Her story is narrated in Joshua 2:1-13. She had three things against her:-
- Rahab was a Canaanite. She was not part of the Chosen nation. Canaanites were wicked people who worshipped pagan gods.
- Rahab was a woman. Women during those days were considered as second class citizens or a piece of property. They had no rights.
- Rahab was a prostitute who sold her body for money.
Despite all these odds, the Sovereign Lord reached out to her. He didn’t look at her external character. He found a heart that was perfected to Him. We can learn the following three lessons from Rahab’s life.
LESSONS FROM RAHAB’S LIFE
- Rahab carried a receptive heart. She had never seen God or experienced any miracle or deliverance from Him. She had only heard about the miracles of God – the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud that followed the Israelites, and the manna that feel from Heaven. She had heard about Yahweh the Lord who saves. By hearing the Word, faith came into her heart. She carried a heart that was quick to receive God’s Word.
What is the condition of our heart? Are we receptive or have we hardened our hearts? Has the Word lost its power in our lives? I am from a Methodist background in Jabalpur. Sometime after our wedding, my husband was invited to preach at that church. Methodists are very methodical about their service. They like everything to be conducted in an orderly fashion. My husband preached God’s Word in his usual style – walking up and down the stage with an animated voice. After the service many people shared that God had touched their hearts through his preaching. One elderly lady who was a PhD in literature handed him a paper. She had been making notes on the number of mistakes in his pronunciation. I felt sad for her. She had completely missed God’s voice because she was looking at other things.
Is that the state of our heart? Are we caught up in so many different things that we miss out on hearing God’s Word?
- Rahab had a responding heart. She had only heard what the Lord of Israel had done. But that was sufficient for her to believe. Her story doesn’t end there. She responded in faith. She hid the two spies under the flax seeds. She was taking a risk. If she was caught the king would have killed her. It is easy to have faith when life is good. What is the condition of our faith when challenges and difficulties come? We can either run away from the challenges or face them boldly. Many of us are content with just being saved. We fail to cultivate a responding heart. Are we willing to step out in faith?A man spotted a beautiful vase in a mall. Even though it was expensive he bought it and took it home. The next day he noticed that the curtains and sofa in the room appeared shabby in comparison to the vase. So, he slowly changed the whole décor of the room to make it as beautiful as the vase. Do our lives reflect that Jesus is our Lord? Have we taken steps to beautify our lives for the Lord? Let us respond to God’s Word even if it means taking a risk for Him. Let us look at our God and step out of our boats. Let us beautify our lives to reflect the glory of God.
- Rahab had a reclaimed heart. She was a prostitute. Her life was dark, dirty and hopeless. When the two spies walked into her house she saw a ray of hope. She reached out to God through that hope. The Lord in turn reached out and pulled her out of Jericho. He transformed her life. Joshua spared Rahab and her family’s lives at the battle of Jericho. The Bible says that she lived among the Israelites since then. She is later listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. Rahab was the grandmother of King David. She was the ancestor of Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the way Rahab had caught hold of that ray of hope. She didn’t give up on God. Neither did God give up on her.
God promises us hope irrespective of who we are or how dark our lives are. If we reach out and touch the ray of life He won’t disappoint us. It is not about being a man or a woman. It is about God. He doesn’t give up on us, so why should we give up on ourselves or our spouses or children or others? When we hear the still small voice of God let us carry a receptive heart, respond to His Word in faith and let Him reclaim our hearts.