Yesterday at PCC, the services were about Rahab the Prostitute from Joshua 2. I looked back over all the messages (sermons) I have ever developed (I started speaking in churches regularly in 1998) and I couldn't find a single one on Rahab! I think yesterday was the first time I've ever taught on Joshua 2. You can see the whole service here.
So, today, I was reading in Matthew and found something interesting that Jesus said and it was uncanny, since it had a lot to do with Rahab:
Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and the religious leaders and says:
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Did you see it? The "tax collectors and the prostitutes" are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the very religiously devout! Why? Because even though the 'tax collectors and prostitutes' initially have lived in a way that was not obedient to God, they were open to Him, eventually believed in Him and took action base on that belief. They changed their lives because of what they knew!
Jesus is making the point of the Rahab story - that it isn't about knowledge (the knowledge of the religious leaders was vast). Rather, it's about faith in action. Those who are willing to respond to God's voice based on what they know (whether it is a little or a lot) are the one's who are "entering the kingdom of God."
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote this:
You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:24-26)
So, take some time today and reflect on where you are right now. What do you know about God? What are those core beliefs deep inside of you? Go ahead, list them...write them down, each on a separate line. (They might include things like: I know God is alive; I know God cares about me; I know God is powerful; I know God is personal; I know God wants to use me; I know God cares about the poor, etc.)
Now, pray and ask God to show you the truth about yourself. Be still and quiet and listen for His voice. Ask Him this question: "With each of these things that I wrote down that I know about God, how is my life tangibly lived in a different way because of what I know?"
In other words, what action am I taking because of these truths? Are they just academic, intellectual knowledge for me, or is my life notably changed because of them? Is my behavior or choices different? Ask God to show you the areas in which you need to take action.