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  IYF_PH (khnam@goodnews.or.kr   
 2006-04-21 14:57:52, 4584 Hits, 373 Votes
  [03.20.2006] Life Newly Painted by God
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:
(Joshua 2:1-12)

God the Artist  

Matthew chapter 1 says, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naason; and Naason begat Salmon. What comes next? And Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab. The women in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1 all received the grace of God. Rahab, the mother of Boaz, was a harlot from the city of Jericho. She sold liquor, her smile, and her body to men. We do not know why Rahab took up her particular line of work. She was despised and scorned by her own family, but one day, God changed her life. Genesis chapter 1 says, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. At the time, the earth was in deep confusion, emptiness, darkness and desolation, with no hope, love, light, or life. Then, in His heart, God painted a new earth. I call God an artist. I say he painted it because God creates such beautiful images. The earth that God painted was not an earth in confusion, darkness, and emptiness. God moved the earth He had painted in His heart upon the earth of the reality which was in confusion and void. He said, "Let there be light," and divided the light from darkness. He said, "Let the waters be divided above and below the firmament." Each image was created according to the painting in God's heart and our beautiful earth came to be.

You Are Indeed a Beautiful Woman

We read about Rahab in the book of Joshua. She lived near the walls of Jericho. There was no one who loved the harlot Rahab, nor did she have anyone who was close to her. Many considered her low and foul. Even her own family thought, "We wish she were not part of our family." When, deep into the night her customers would leave, she would be overwhelmed by her anguish and her loneliness. God is one who colorizes the darkened world, painting it in bright colors. God began to paint Rahab's life with a brush dipped in pink. Rahab never dreamt that it could happen to her. One day she was in her shop when two Israelite spies entered. "Give us a drink." Rahab knew immediately that they were Israelite spies. Rahab and the spies were engaged in conversation when suddenly there was a loud rap on the door. "Open the door! Open the door! Did some strange people come here?" Some soldiers from Jericho had come looking for the spies. Rahab thought fast. "I'd better hide these guys!" Quickly she sent them up to the roof and covered them with flax. "Yes, one moment please. Who is it?" she asked. "Hurry up. Open the door!" "We are closed. We close at nine. Come tomorrow if you want a drink." "I said, open the door!" shouted a soldier. Opening the door, Rahab asked, "O.K, O.K, what's wrong with you?" "Never mind me. Did two strange looking guys come here today?" "Yes, there were a couple of guys here earlier. Why? Is something wrong? " "They were Israelite spies! Where did they go?" Incredulous, Rahab replied, "No! Imagine that. Spies? Here? How scary! I had no idea. They came here, had a drink, and then left as the city gates were closing." "Really? C'mon, guys. Let's not lose any time!" When they left, Rahab locked the doors, went up to the roof, and told the spies that they were safe. The spies looked at Rahab. "Why did you save us? We came to  spy on your city. Why did you save us?""Everyone here knows how the Israelites came out of Egypt, and how you were in the wilderness for forty years. Our hearts melted when we heard that Israelites were coming to attack us. I have saved you. Now you must save me!" Salmon, one of the spies, looked at Rahab and answered, "How did a woman like you become a harlot? I have seen many beautiful women, but I have never known a woman with such courage and wisdom, and with such a bright heart. As you say, just as you have saved us, we will save you!" I am disappointed that the Bible does recite the conversation between Salmon and Rahab. They talked late into the night and indulged in love. "Salmon, I am not worthy of your love. I'm a harlot." "That is not important. You are a bright, wise, and honest woman. The beauty in your heart is more than enough to make up for your past." That was how the love between the two started. Shortly thereafter the spies escaped through the window and fled to the Israelite camp. The day that the Israelites attacked Jericho and brought down the city, Salmon went to Rahab's house and protected her and the people who had gathered there. Salmon and Rahab were married. Not long after, the two had Boaz, and Boaz had Obed, and Obed had Jesse, and Jesse had David, who became king. Rahab was David's grandmother.

Our Lives Repainted

God painted to change Rahab's foul and unseemly life. Then He changed Rahab's life according to this painting. Rahab was no longer a harlot. Which, then, was the true Rahab? Was it the harlot selling her smile and liquor in the city of Jericho? No, that was not the true Rahab. Rahab's beautiful image as Salmon's wife, that was the true Rahab. Satan is also a painter, except that when Satan picks up a brush, it is a brush of darkness, with which he paints people's lives with sin, chaos, and darkness. God's brush is one of light, with which, one by one, He paints pictures of light and breathless beauty. I cannot say how thankful I am when I see people who through God have gone from a life of darkness and degradation to a life of light and fulfillment. Once, while serving on a prison education committee, I saw murderers and death row inmates change by accepting Jesus. I saw members of the Russian Mafia receive salvation and drug addicts changetheir ways. Just as a caterpillar ends its life by becoming a beautiful butterfly, just as Rahab was freed from the grip of her degrading past to become Salmon's wife, at this very moment God is repainting the lives of many people.

Pastor, My Son Is Changed!  

Once, when I was visiting Los Angeles many years ago, a lady I knew approached me and said, "Pastor, please take care of my son!" They were from Korea and she and her husband had divorced shortly after they immigrated to the United States. She studied hard on her own and became a lawyer, eventually earning a lotof money. She was always too busy to take care of her son. Trying to make up for not being there for him, she lavished gifts on him, buying him anything he wanted. But he began to do drugs and fell more and more into sin. When the mother urged him to abandon his antisocial lifestyle, he would relent and say he would, but of course he never changed. He would quickly fall back into sin and substance abuse. One day the mother saw that her son was carrying around a pistol. "What's wrong with you? You don't have a father! I'm sorry about that, but that all the more reason for which you have to grow up to be good and accept your responsibilities, my son!" The mother held her son's hand, cried, and begged. "Mom, I'm not going to live like this anymore. I will stop doing drugs and I will stopmy criminal ways."Then, of course, he would meet his friends and would be unable to resist. It was around that time the mother came to see me. "Pastor, these days I am so afraid for my son. I'm afraid he's going to do something terrible. Not a day goes by but that I worry and fear for him. Now he's going around with a pistol. I have no idea what he's up to, but whatever it is, it's no good." There was no way for me to help her. She came to me two, three times, but there was nothing I could do. I told her, "I live in Korea. How can I help your son? Could you send him to Korea?" "Yes, Pastor, I can do that!" I took him to Korea. At first he was a terrible burden. He dyed his hair with strange, rainbow colors, and he wore torn pants that hung off his rear. He shared a room with a brother who was going to go out as a missionary. The brother felt so sorry for him that he began to preach the Word to him. One day, two days. The Word and Christ began to enter the young man's heart. It was not long before the young man showed remarkable change.  He cut his hair and put on neat, cleanclothes. One day his father came to see him, and they sat down to talk. "Father, all of my torn pants are now in my bag. I don't need them anymore. My heart has changed. Father, you should believe in Jesus. You too can change."The father cried and said to me, "Pastor, my son has changed! He's changed!" Many people know that they could change if they believed in Jesus, but they do not know how to believe. Believing in Jesus is having the sins of your heart washed away. Jesus cannot enter into the hearts of people who have sin. Everyone can change, however, if they have their sins washed clean, just as the earth changed being a world of darkness to become one of beauty, flowers, fruit, and birds singing. You may fall into sin. There are many who today are walking a path toward death. God is making a new painting of these people. He will change their lives according to that painting. God allowed that young man to change. Even today, God is painting your life bright and beautiful, preparing to change it.

Being a Caterpillar Is Part of the Process  

The harlot Rahab was a disgraced woman. Everyone despised and scorned her, but God loved her and painted a new life for her. In God's heart, Rahab had always been in the genealogy of Jesus. Rahab, in the heart of God, was not seller of liquor, or laughter, or of her body. She was a truly precious housewife bearing a son and serving her husband, the grandmother to a king, continuing the lineage of Christ. It was amazing that Rahab's life followed God's plan, when she helped the Israelite spies who one day came to her. I would like to ask you. Which was her true image? Playing the harlot in the city of Jericho, or having and breastfeeding Boaz as the wife of Salmon? God's plan was for Rahab to figure in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Being a harlot was only part of the process of Rahab bringing this about. It was not her true life. Being a caterpillar is a part of the process of becoming a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar stage is not the butterfly's true image. Suppose we have a conversation with a caterpillar. "Hey, Caterpillar, don't be so disappointed. Someday you'll become a beautiful butterfly." "No way! How could I become a butterfly? I am a wretched caterpillar! I crawl around eating cabbage leaves. People try to spray me with pesticides. How could I ever become a beautiful, flying butterfly?"  The caterpillar may not believe what heis bound to become, but with the passage of time, his destiny is fulfilled and he does, indeed, become a butterfly. Just as Rahab became Salmon's wife, just as a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly, just as the dark earth became aworld of flowers in bloom and ripening fruit, God, even today, is busily painting new pictures of your lives which Satan had filled with dirty, filthy, and dark things.

My Life as a Harlot Is Over!  

The day after Salmon left, some local men came to Rahab's house. "Rahab! We're he-re. Open the do-or. We've come to drink and have a good time!" "Sorry, fellas. Go away. We're no longer in business." "Are you out of your mind? Look at all this money I've brought. I don't want to take any of it home." "No, I don't need it anymore. Pleasego."Rumor spread that Rahab was no longer in business. The women in the quarter came to see her. "What's going on, Rahab. You're giving all this up? How could you do that? You're only 25. What'll you do when you get old? You have to make money while you're young, or have you forgotten." "No, I quit." "We don't understand." Rahab confessed to them, "I have found a man to love." "Who is this man?" "His name is Salmon. He's from Israel." "Wake up, wake up! What Israelite would be foolish enough to marry a woman from Jericho? Have you forgotten? Men are all alike. Here in Jericho, an Israelite has to say he loves you, if he doesn't want to die. Ah, but he's gone now, so forget him. Put your sign out, open your door, and go back to being your old self." "No, he's not that kind of man. He truly loves me." After all the harlots leave, Rahab begins to have second thoughts. "Maybe they're right. Maybe I am just a harlot. How can I ever love? No, Salmon wouldn't do that to me. I know men. He was being honest. He loves me!" Rahab believed Salmon. If she did not believe Salmon, she would have thought that the life of a harlot was her true life and would have continued to sell her liquor and laughter to men. Rahab, however, was convinced to an absolute certainty that Salmon would come and save her the day the city of Jericho fell. Then Rahab began to witness. "Uncle, come to my house. It's the only way for you to live! Cousin, stay at my house. Then you can live. Jill, Jane, if you want to live, you too have to come to my house. Listen! Don't you hear the trumpets of the Israelites circling the city? Once the trumpets stop, the city will fall!" Rahab hoped that she would marry Salmon the day the city of Jericho fell and thus she would no longer be the harlot Rahab. Her life as a harlot would be over. She told anyone who would listen, "My life as a harlot is over! I was a harlot in the past, but now I have someone to love! From now on I will have nothing to do with other men!

Believing This, What Life Will You Live?  

This story is about us, every one of us. We, who have been living in sin, have been given new life. God has given it to us. He sent Jesus Christ to live among us. The blood Jesus shed at the cross and the punishment he received for our sin erased our dark, sinful lives once and for all time. We have all committed sin. There is none who in the eyes of God has not sinned and who has not done evil. We cannot brighten our sinful lives. It is not within our power. God begins to repaint our lives. He puts the blood of Jesus on His brush and paints our lives. We, who are dying and are tied to sin, have had our sins washed clean. God removes sin from our lives, washes away evil, and paints us a picture of a bright, holy, clean life in Jesus. Which is your true image? A foul and wretched life in sin, is that your true image? Or is your true image the picture that God has painted of you through Jesus, where all of your sins are washed away, and you are sanctified and living a new life in Christ? God is telling you to choose between these two images. Over the past year, our mission has sent a number of short-term missionaries to Africa, where they preached the gospel. While there, some caught malaria. They all fought against the heat and overcame their hardships, and now have returned with bright faces. Diseased students came back healed from their diseases. God made new paintings of their lives. God's brush is always full of bright and beautiful colors. Even today, He does not rest in painting your lives. What will you believe and how will you live your life? Will you live a life of sin and guilt? Or will you live God's new painting of your life, with all your sins washed away through the blood of Jesus? Will you live by faith in Jesus? Foolish people say that their old image is their true image. A water beetle is no longer a water beetle if it becomes a dragonfly. It cannot live if it goes to the water after it has become a dragonfly because life on the water is too restricting. As a dragonfly it is renewed and can fly in the endless sky. God has renewed us through the redemption in Jesus Christ. Just as the harlot Rahab changed, just as a water beetle changes, the work of God has changed you. Which will you believe? Where is your heart? Are you still held captive in your old sinfulness, or have you received forgiveness of sin, joyfully serving the Lord? I hope that you will believe in God who has forgiven your sins and has changed your dark life into one of light. People who accept this in their heart cast off their old lives and live new lives. When God works in our lives, we are no longer our old selves. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Our old wretched life is gone. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus and, one day, when we meet the Lord, we will be entirely like Him.

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