Encouragement 06-08-04


June 8, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Getting Past Your Past, Part II
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  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."  Psalm 103: 8, 11 (NIV)


Can God use a woman with a sinful past?  The answer is a resounding "yes."  In fact, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who committed some pretty bad deeds, but God chose them to accomplish great things.

Yesterday, I started telling you the story of Rahab, a woman who got past her past.  Rahab was a prostitute living in the city of Jericho.  She was also a Caananite who did not believe in God, that is, until she heard the stories.

Many travelers passed through Jericho on their way across the desert, and they often told stories about the God of the Israelites, and His mighty power.  When the people of Jericho saw the Israelites camped outside their city walls, they knew it was not good.  But Rahab felt her heart stir with hope.
Outside the walls, Joshua was in charge. Because God had told him to capture Jericho and all the people within the walls Joshua sent in two spies to check things out.  The two spies ended up in Rahab's house.  The Bible doesn't tell us why, but I believe that God knew Rahab's heart. 
Rahab, although she had done many wrong things, had a heart that was willing to be changed.  And, she was also clever. 
When the king of Jericho learned that spies had entered Rahab's house he immediately sent his men to capture the spies.  But Rahab hid the spies and sent the king's men off in the wrong direction.  Before the spies escaped, Rahab acknowledged that the Israelite's God was the Lord of all, and she asked for protection when the city was attacked.
Rahab was far from God in many ways, and yet she recognized that God had the power to save her and her family.  She boldly asked for favor and received it. 
The Israelites proceeded to destroy the city, and out of the entire population, only Rahab and her family were spared.   From that day, Rahab lived among the Israelites and worshiped God.  In fact, God honored her and made her an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Rahab's story of victory over her past is one that you can experience today.  No matter what you have done in your past, even if that past was this morning, or what has been done to you, God has a plan and a purpose for you.  Your potential today is fresh and new with God.
Rahab did five things that helped her get past her past:
1.  She had a heart that was willing to be changed.
2.  She believed the stories about God's power.  She had faith in God.
3.  She was willing to let go of her past.
4.  She boldly asked for favor.
5.  She trusted God to do what He said He would do.
Rahab's legacy is one of hope.  God is a master at taking a broken past and creating a magnificent future.  Simply offer Him what you have, and watch Him transform your life.

My prayer for today:

Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing the potential in me despite my past.  I offer you all that I have, trusting you to transform my brokenness into a life that has purpose and meaning.  Help me to heal from the sins and hurts in my past.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Consider if you have a heart that is willing to be changed.  Honestly, evaluate if you trust God to forgive the sins of your past and not hold them against you.  Be open to the potential that God wants to use your life in a wonderful way.

Reflection points:

Although Rahab was a living a life far from God, what good characteristics did she have?

Why do you think God would choose to use someone like Rahab?

What good characteristics do you have that God can use?

What are some steps you can take to overcome the difficulties in your past?

Power Verses:

I Samuel 16:7 "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (NIV)

Psalm 139:12-14  "Even the darkness will not be dark to You, the night will shine like the day.  For darkness is as light to You.  For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  (NIV)

Lamentations 3:21-24 "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I have hope in Him.'" (NAS)

Hebrews 11:31 "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient."  (NIV)

Additional Resources:

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries

Originally published Tuesday, 08 June 2004.