“And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:25-26).Some stories in the Bible don’t quite fit.This is one of them.Daniel in the lion’s den fits.Rahab the harlot doesn’t fit so well.We admire David for killing Goliath.We’re not so sure about Rahab telling a lie.We teach our children to sing “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho.”I don’t know any songs about Rahab.And yet . . . Rahab hid the spies and sent them on their way.That meant Joshua got the crucial information he needed.She ended up saving her whole family.She gave birth to a son named Boaz who married Ruth.She was David’s great-great-grandmother.She shows up in Matthew 1 as part of Jesus’ genealogy.She made it to the “Hall of Fame of Faith” in Hebrews 11.She becomes an example of living faith in James 2.Did I mention she was a prostitute and a liar?
Faith can be messy at times. True faith is rarely as neat and clean as we make it out to be on Sunday morning. Real faith is always mixed with very human imperfections. If you doubt that, just take a look in the mirror. You have faith, or at least you try to have faith, or you muddle through as best you can. How close to perfection are you?That’s my point.Though Rahab was far from perfect, her name shows up in an honorable way in the Bible.Messy faith is better than no faith. Let’s start there as we think about Rahab. What can we learn from her story?
You can read the rest of the sermon online.
Good Lord, save me from myself today. Deliver me from rudeness, irritability, sarcasm, quick put-downs, and remind me not to roll my eyes or sigh or mutter under my breath. In short, Lord, do a miracle in me today because I need one. Amen.
We all agree the world is in trouble. Our nation is in trouble. What can we do about it? On May 2 I preached a message called The World is Going to Hell at Cannon Beach Conference Center in Cannon Beach, OR. If we take the words of Jesus seriously, there are two things we can and should do no matter how bad things get around us.
Please listen to this message and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.
A few days ago I posted the following quote as my “Good Words for Today”:
If my love for Jesus never leads me to take a risk, how much do I really love him? If my faith never causes me to do things that make no sense to others, including my Christian friends, perhaps I’m playing it too safe. If everything I say and do seems perfectly comprehensible to the world, then I need to do some soul-searching.
That quote got a number of encouraging responses. Then there was this comment from a man in Nigeria:
“My sincere question is "Why does it take us so long after being a Christian to get to this stage when the disciples got there in 3.5yrs?" Am I missing something here?”
His question is both honest and very common. I would say to my friend, “You aren’t missing anything.” We all wonder from time to time, “Why is it taking me so long to get better?” Here are a few examples:
*“I thought by now I wouldn’t struggle so much with anger. Why is it taking me so long to get better?”
*“I still get tempted by pornography. Why is it taking me so long to get better?”
*“I go to church every Sunday but I still have doubts. Why is it taking me so long to get better?”
*“I thought I’d be a better person by now, but I’ve got so many bad habits. Why is it taking me so long to get better?”
*“I’m a bitter person even though I cover it up most of the time. Why is it taking me so long to get better?”
Many of us wish we had an answer to that question. We might assume that upon conversion, we would rapidly sprout wings and fly to heaven. But it doesn’t happen that way. God has ordained that even though we are being made like Jesus, it only happens a little bit at a time. And sometimes that “little bit” seems very little indeed.
There is victory to be had but it will not come easily or quickly. We are in a war with spiritual foes who will not easily yield their ground. In our series on James, we have come to a passage that helps us understand how God builds our faith through the trials of life. As opposed to a dead faith that produces nothing, Abraham’s dynamic faith was made complete when he offered his beloved son Isaac on the altar.
Would you like to see your faith grow? Then let’s study together James 2:21-24 to learn from Abraham how trials can make our faith complete.
You can read the rest of the message online.