Melting Point

This past summer as one of the particularly long heat waves passed through our area, we discovered that two of our Costco sized bags of chocolate chips melted and transformed from little, tiny morsels into large solid blocks of chocolate. Our chocolate chip cookies turned into chocolate chunk cookies. It seems that everything has a melting point. 

Six times in the book of Joshua we read about the idea of people “melting in fear”. (2:9; 2:11; 2:24; 5:1; 7:5; 14:8). In context of each of these verses there is a very real sense of fear surrounding life and death as people have witnessed the incredible power of God through the continuance of his promise to bring his people into the land promised to them through his covenant with Abraham. 

Chapter 2 of Joshua recounts the interaction between Rahab and the spies where she explains to them, “When we heard of it, (the crossing of the Jordan) our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” As we read this today, we recognize the transformation in Rahab’s life that speaks to a “melting” or “softening” of another kind. We don’t know a lot about Rahab, but we do know that at some point in time she recognized God for who he is and gave her life over to him, her heart was softened.

What started as a real fear in the sense of life and death became a life changing experience for Rahab. A new sense of understanding and fear of the Lord became a new reality of reverence and awe for a God who saves and protects those who love and follow him. Later in scripture (Heb 11:31; James 2:25) we hear of Rahab as an example of faith, one who stands out because of her actions in service to God. 

In life and ministry, I have had the opportunity to hear many incredible stories of life transformation as God continues to work in the hearts of his people. Each story, unique in their own way demonstrate the incredible power of love, forgiveness, and acceptance as people put their hope and trust in the Lord. Unfortunately, I have also heard stories that are surrounded by a paralyzing fear that keeps people at a distance from God. They fear that their life choices and actions are unforgivable, and that God could never love or forgive them.

The scriptures are filled with stories of forgiveness and redemption; Rahab’s story is only one of many. David is another example, and he shares these words for all of us:

He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

The God that we serve is so full of mercy and grace and no matter who we are and what we have done there is forgiveness available to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. 

The stories we have in scripture have the power to inspire and change lives. Our stories, just the same, have power to inspire and encourage others who may not know how great the love of God is.

When was the last time you shared your story? How has God has worked in your life to draw you close to him? Take some time to pray and ask God to give you the opportunity to share your story with someone, you never know the kind of change it will bring in someone’s life.

How Big Was That Fish?

Have you ever been regaled with a fanciful story of a fisherman’s retelling of the “big one” that got away? It seems like every-time the story is repeated the details get exaggerated just a little more. The fish is bigger, the fight to reel it in gets longer and the heightened leap out of the water and the seemingly impossible escape from the line is more dramatic. It might not be a fish story for all of us, but many of us can relate to the “size” of a story and how it can grow in its details. 

One of my all-time favorite verses in the Bible is found in John chapter 21:25. Throughout the book John writes about several miracles that point to Jesus’ power as the Son of God. At the conclusion of his book he writes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

Is John telling us a “fish story” here? In a way he is. He uses a literary device called hyperbole in this verse to help us understand two things. First, he recounts only seven of Jesus’ miracles to draw our attention to his sovereignty as the Son of God. As we read the other gospels, we hear of many more miracles that Jesus performed. So yes, there is more to the story of Jesus life that have been written down in this gospel. Secondly, it speaks to the infinite power and most certain point that God, through Jesus is never idle in His purpose for our lives. He leads us, guides us, corrects us, challenges us, grows us, teaches us, and forgives us. (the list could go on). What we have presented before us in this gospel and the others tells us of God’s story and his incredible love for us. 

John’s words in this verse also speak volumes to the praise, honor, and glory that we as Christ followers are to give to our Father in heaven. I am often reminded of the Psalms and the words of praise that are lifted to God; Psalm 150 is a great example:

“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”

When his (Jesus) story becomes a part of our story today we have opportunity to praise him for the work that he continues to do in our lives and the lives of others. The way we live our lives as followers of Jesus can also bring praise, honor, and glory to him. Praise is not limited to the sound of trumpets, tambourines, strings, or the sounding of cymbals. When we reflect God’s love, his mercy and grace to others this brings praise to his name. 

Let’s praise the Lord together for what he has done in our lives and pray for exciting new chapters in life filled with stories to share with those around us.