Risk Analysis

“You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it’s me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can’t miss? ‘Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it.”

“Fast Eddie” Felson is about to risk it all in the movie, “The Hustler”.  The entire roll of cash, everything he has, in a game of pool against the great “Minnesota Fats”.  I love stories of gamblers, all kinds of gamblers.  The gamblers who risk their lives climbing mountains, gamblers who risk their lives exploring new places, gamblers who risk their reputation to follow a vision.  Many of our great heroes were gamblers – they believed so strongly in their dream, they risked everything to achieve it.  Every gambler makes an assessment of the risks versus the rewards by looking at all the elements of the game as well as each player, sometimes they do this in seconds, sometimes they spend years analyzing.  But then the moment of decision arrives, stay or go, bet or go home, do or not do.

Rahab was a gambler.  She is first mentioned in the Old Testament book of Joshua, and we learn a lot about her in her first appearance: she lives in the city of Jericho, she is a harlot, she allows Joshua’s 2 spies to stay in her house.  She is also a liar, the King of Jericho sent men to find these spies, when they show up at Rahab’s house she admits they were there but says she had sent them away.  In fact, the men were hidden on her roof among the stalks of flax.

When Rahab lied to the King’s men she gambled her own life and the lives of everyone in her house.  Kings had absolute power and there was no democratic process.  What convinced Rahab that the risk of hiding these foreign spies was worth the risk?  The answer is found here:

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.  When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Rahab knew the Lord was giving the Israelites the land, she knew the people of Jericho were terrified of them.  She had heard the stories of how God had taken them out of Egypt and given them victory in battle and most importantly, she knew and believed that this God was the one true God the Lord of heaven and earth.

The spies promise to spare her life and the life of her family IF she keeps silent and when they conquer Jericho.  Notice (verse 15) exactly where Rahab lives, “her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.”  You probably know what happens to Jericho but if not, read Joshua chapter 6.  Rahab ties a scarlet cord to her window to mark and protect her house from the impending invasion.  This red cord was a vivid marker to say, “Here I am” and also to say, “I believe!”

The walls of Jericho fall flat but God preserves and protects Rahab and reminds Joshua of the spies promise to her.  Everything she owns and her fathers family are all spared, Jericho and it’s people are utterly destroyed.

But the story of Rahab does not quite end there, “she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”  Joshua 6:25

Rahab is mentioned again in Matthew 1:5, only one of three women in the genealogy of Jesus, Rahab lives in the midst of Israel to this day.

In Hebrews 11:31, Rahab lived by faith, trusting in God for her life and future, when she welcomed the spies in peace, living in the midst of Israel to this day.

James 2:25 Rahab was justified by her works, gave evidence of her faith, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way, living in the midst of Israel to this day.

I love this story of a woman who gambled everything for her God.  And not just any woman, a harlot – this identity is used in every mention of her except Matthew.  God wants us to know that Rahab was a woman the world scorned, looked down on, gossiped about, and marginalized but look what God does with and for her!  Her story, her name, she herself, lives on in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Rahab risked it all for a very great reward – an eternal heritage.  When the Kings men pounded on her door what went through her mind?  Based on her actions, I am sure she thought, “This God will save me.

She was right.  And He is still saving anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Just ask Him.

Header image from: Photo by James Barker. Published on 16 December 2008
Stock Photo – Image ID: 1002651

Audience of One

Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog.  Write him or her a letter.

Hello!  I cannot describe how happy it makes me that you are finally reading my blog!  You are an answer to my prayer.  Ever think of yourself that way?  How have I prayed for you?  Like this: every time I sit down to blog, I pray, “Oh God, help my words be an encouragement to someone today.  Lord, please let someone find truth in my words.  Help me be accurate when I share your words, God.  Help the reader see you and not me.”  Easy, takes about a minute and look – God heard, God answered, you showed up!

I think a short explanation is needed here since I have mentioned God a couple of times already.  When I refer to God with a capital ‘G” as I do often, I am talking about the God of the Bible, that is the God I believe in, the only one true God, the God who created all things, the God of three persons, Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  I believe God divinely inspired men to write the Bible and the Bible is literally true from beginning to end and is just as relevant, useful and applicable today as the day it was written.

I’ll bet you are now doing one of the following:  You are shouting “Amen” because you agree with me, or you have been considering the possibility that what I just said is true and want to know more, or, you have already clicked away to another blog, to Facebook or BuzzFeed and are no longer reading, sorry, bye bye!  How can I be so sure about that?  Mentioning God and the Bible always causes a reaction!

If you are in the first group, welcome.  You might want to read some of my other blog posts about the lessons God has been teaching me as I read and study His Word; I hope you find them a blessing and encouragement!

If you are in the third and last group listed I doubt you are still reading but just in case you are…I do not seek to defend the Bible, God, Jesus or any other Christian beliefs, doctrine or theology in my blog; there are a lot of others out there who do that far better than I can, it is not my gift.  I can tell you with confidence that Jesus changed my life and I trust Him absolutely and completely.  I suggest you read the Bible for yourself, asking God to reveal Himself and to give you understanding of His Word; it worked for me, it can work for you.

Finally, you in the second group, the person who may be wondering if God is real, if He cares, if the Bible is true.  I can assure you that God is very real and proof is all around you.  As you are reading, think about your eyes; as you developed in your mother’s womb how did the eye cells know to become eye cells – what caused each part of your body to develop in it’s own unique way and for it’s own purpose.  Your DNA is yours alone, it is complex beyond human imagining, design or accident; it is not too complex for God.  The fact that you are willing to consider the possibility of God is proof of His existence, as humans we seek a reason, an explanation for our lives, for our world, for the flow of events.  Every culture in every age worships some form of god or gods – we are worshipper’s and we all seek to worship something or someone – I choose God.

Does God care about you and how can you know for sure?  Look at Jesus.  He was either insane, a liar or the Son of God as He claimed – there are no other possibilities.  If he was insane and/or a liar, millions of people have followed Him and His teachings for centuries, thousands of His follower’s have died and are dying today rather than deny Him.  He died for the sins of the whole world, He died so we could have eternal life, He died to save you and me and anyone else who believes in him.  Would you die to save someone’s life?   I like to think I would die to save the life of one of my kids or my husband, or a good friend but would I die to save a murderer, a pedophile, a horrible dictator?  Honestly, I don’t think so but Jesus did.  Anyone asking forgiveness, giving their life to Jesus can be saved and Jesus died for all, the good and the bad, just like He died for you and for me – the salvation Jesus died to obtain for us is a free gift to anyone and everyone who believes.  Does God care?  Look at Jesus.

Is the Bible true?  The Bible has been attacked, banned, mocked, burned, analyzed, revised and still it stands.  Written over a span of 1500 years by 40 different men; it has one central character and theme, Jesus and Redemption – an amazing accomplishment.  Have you picked up a Bible and started reading and then given up after a few pages?  If you did you are in the majority. No one who is a fan of the Lord of The Rings trilogy would suggest that you pick up any of those three books, open to a random page and start reading and you will have an understanding of the whole story but people do this with the Bible all the time!  I suggest you read the Bible and read it very differently.  First, get an easy to read version like the New International Version (and there are free Bibles and Bible apps you can download and read online).  Start in the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of John (the 4th book in the NT).  Read a bit and stop, talk to God about what you just read.  If you don’t understand it, ask God to help you.  If you don’t see how it applies to you, ask God to show how.  Don’t try to read it all at once, keep reading in small chunks every day and keep reading from the left to the right – don’t skip around – and don’t give up; stay in John until you finish it; you will be amazed at what God shows you.

I hope you will keep reading my blog and I hope it helps you.  My purpose is to share the lessons and the encouragement I receive as I read the Bible.  I have been reading and studying for over 20 years, I have learned a lot and know God has a much more to teach me.  He has been patient and faithful with me and I know He will be with you.

I often say that you can have a shelf full of great cookbooks and you can watch the Food Network faithfully, but if you want to learn to cook you have to grab some ingredients, pick up a pot and get cooking.  Learning about God is like that, decide to trust Him and His Word, start reading and start obeying what He shows you.  If you take that one single and simple step towards God, He will take the other 99 to get to you!  Just do it!

With more prayers and a few Bible verses for you, B.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Audience of One