Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 25 August 2017

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  Hebrews 11, verse 31.

God likes hookers.   God loves whores.

Yes, I said that.   God loves prostitutes, murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, cheaters, haters, and Democrats.   Excepting that last category, God loves all those kinds of people who flagrantly violate the Ten Commandments He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.   And, yes, God loves Democrats, too, (and Republicans, Libertarians, Antifa thugs, and KKK neo-Nazi punks who really need to get a clue).

You know one place you could lump all those people together?   Answer:  a church.  Churches are spiritual hospitals, places for sick twisted freaks to go to get better, to receive medicine, to give of themselves to someone who doesn’t deserve all their disease but wants to take it anyway.   More than that, worship is the time to commune with the God who loves us despite everything we do to piss Him off.   He loves everyone, even the neo-Nazis, Democrats, and those other bad actors.

Know how we can know that?   Rahab.   Rahab was a hooker living in Jericho.   She had heard about this God; Jehovah, Yahweh, IAM; she had heard about Him through the grapevine and she believed He was real.  She had heard the stories about this massive nation that God had brought out of slavery in Egypt.   When Joshua sent spies into Jericho to scope it out, Rahab hid them because she respected God and wanted to know more of Him.   She who had earned her living in sin on her back wanted to turn from how that made her feel and live.   She didn’t want to die; she didn’t want to be killed when Israel took the town.   So she hid the Israelite spies in her home and made them promise they would spare her and hers when they overran Jericho.

And that’s what happened.   Rahab the prostitute, Rahab the damn dirty sinner whore believed in a God she had only heard about as a rumor.   When presented with facts of His existence (the Israelites), she immediately believed.  She believed out of fear but then she believed out of hope.   She understood that this God unknown to her had proven Himself to be all He said He was through keeping His word.   Rahab wanted to live and she believed God was the only way she could.   She was right.   And she was a hooker.  She was considered the worst of sinners.

How about you?   Are you a prostitute?   Do you whore yourself out for nothing?  How many whores will you see in church on Sunday morning?   Look around.   There’ll be quite a few even if they make their livings wearing a suit and tie.  Or if they have the perfect family and the perfect blonde hair.  I wonder how many of us have the faith that Rahab had.  Not to be Dave the Downer but I’m betting there are few.   Just this week, an astounding thing happened to me.  I found a woman lying in the middle of the road.   This was a four-lane road very early in the morning, and she was passed out, lying up against a concrete barrier.  She was uninjured despite lying down in the middle of a highway.   The policeman and I surmised she was high on some kind of drug.  To make the story short, I called the police, an ambulance came to take her for a check-out, and it appears the woman would be just fine.

Yet do you know what amazed me?   While I was waiting beside her on the road, protecting this stranger from harm, probably a dozen cars whizzed by.   Any one of them could have run over both of us; we could easily have been killed.   Yet any one of them could have stopped to help, even just to investigate, and none of them did.  Remember Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan?   Well, I’m no good Samaritan and I’m not worth the dust on Jesus’ feet.   I’m just a guy who found someone who needed help.

But those other people who kept driving after seeing this woman flat on the road?   It looks like they aren’t even hookers with a heart like Rahab.   Maybe they were frightened themselves.  Maybe they couldn’t stop for some other reason.   Or maybe they just didn’t give a damn.  Whores.   At least Rahab believed and then put her nascent belief into action.   She didn’t have to help, but she wanted to because she wanted to live.   She wanted the hope of this God.

And she received it.   Remember:  God loves hookers, too.

For further reading:  Joshua 2:1, Joshua 9:14, Joshua 6:22-25, Luke 10: 25-37, James 2:25.

Lord, help me to have the faith of Rahab the prostitute.   And bless & forgive those who can’t or won’t help others in time of need.

 

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 20 February 2015

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High GoGod? In d’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”   “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. Mark 5, verses 6-10.

The demons knew who Jesus was; we talked about that yesterday.   If demons knew who Jesus was, then so do Nazis, ISIS terrorists, KKK racists, the LRA in Sudan, atheists in college towns, and any other kind of petty or large evil person…even you and me.   Jesus is self-evident even to those who deny it and want to replace Him with themselves or some other shoddy image.

What’s more: those same demons acknowledged Jesus as God.   True, there’s a fine line between this statement and the one in the last paragraph, but isn’t it also true to say that there’s a difference between knowing who Jesus is and publicly acknowledging the fact? The demons in the man cried out through him that they not only knew Jesus but acknowledged Him as God.  Thoughts became words and actions.

Still, many kinds of demons meant that the man endured many kinds of torture. I have only known a few truly schizophrenic people but those I’ve known are the closest thing I can imagine to being demon-possessed.   The voices in the man were indeed real and they tortured his thoughts, his actions, his dreams, his every emotion and movement. Can you imagine living like that?   It’s not even a life, really.   It’s more like simply existing.

So what did Jesus do about it? Jesus commanded the demons to stop and they did. The demon (the representative of the ‘legion’ which might have been one or thousands) was told to come out of the man and it did. It couldn’t resist the simple command of the simple Man from Galilee.

Now comes the big question:   so what?   To some, this is a nice story about how Jesus did a kind thing for a stranger.   So what?

Well, for starters, you can either accept that line of reasoning or accept that the story is true. It either happened or it didn’t.   And if it didn’t happen, then, yes, it’s just a nice story.   But then that’s all you’ve got.

Or…

…Or, you can accept that it really happened. That the story is an account of something that really happened a very long time ago.   That there really was a man living in a cemetery.   That He really was tortured by imps of hell.   That there really was a man named Jesus who really did command the demons to come out of the man, and that they did.   And if all that is true, then whatever else is said about Jesus must also be true; you can’t simply cherry pick the Bible.   And if the rest of His life is true as well, then it’s also true that what He did for the stranger in the land of the Gerasenes He can do for you or me today.   Now that is a good thought for the day.

Lord, I believe all that is said in Scripture concerning You. Thank You for what You did for the man living among the tombs.

Read Mark 5, verses 1-20.

Practical Proverbial, the Ten Commandments, 20 June 2014. Today’s topic: ending at the start

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20, verses 2 and 3.

So we end here at the beginning. We end with first principles:   God is God.   We are not to worship anyone or anything else. In reality, this first commandment goes with every other one.   There is no sin that doesn’t start without first making something else more important than God.

Let’s not gloss over that slavery thing, though.   You and I: we are still slaves.   Paul said we believers are slaves to righteousness; that’s true. Yet it’s also true we are rhetorical slaves to many other things.   I’m a slave to my job; you’re a slave to your children; we slave out in the yard every weekend; my wife slaves in the kitchen.   Blah, blah blah. As we talk down a pretty powerful word, let’s not lose sight of what it really means.

Slavery is having no freedom.   It is being under the complete control of another.   It means someone can beat you, abuse you, work you, and kill you without your being able to do anything to stop it. For over 200 years, in colonial America then into Constitutional America, slavery was legal and normal.   It took a civil war and drastic societal change to rid the nation of slavery; even then, hatred found ways to perpetuate its effects for another hundred years.

Don’t kid yourself: slavery still exists in this world.   There are still whole parts of Africa in which men enslave each other.   The sex trade is run on slavery in every nation in on the planet. Every government, even benevolent ones, has the tendency to move from liberty to tyranny to enslaving its people; it is only we the people who prevent that.   Slavery is alive and well in 2014.

The Israelites had been slaves for over 400 years, since the death of Joseph and the kind pharaoh he served.   They were subjugated, beaten, tortured and worked until God delivered them into His freedom. Quickly they learned that slavery, however, needs no taskmaster.   Slavery can exist when you’re enslaved to your sins, to your temptations.   God understood this, so He gave them this first commandment to remind them that He is God. That He redeemed them. That He is more powerful. In Him there is only love, justice and true liberty.   In God, there is no cruelty of slavery.   In God, there is only the true freedom of divine redemption. We were created for that loving freedom.

That’s where we end this series. God started it by reminding us of His true, free redemption, then gave us reminders of how to cling to that honest liberty. How much freer could we be if we simply took His commandments at His Word, then lived our lives accordingly.

Lord, You are my only God.   You are the only source of liberty, truth, and love.

 

Read Exodus chapter 20: the full Ten Commandments.