Bro. Mark's Encourging Word of the Day
Rahab’s faith was a sanctifying faith. Did Rahab continue to be a harlot after she had faith? No, she did not. I do not believe she was a harlot at the time the men went to her house, though the name still stuck to her, as such ill names will; but I am sure she was not afterwards, for Salmon the prince of Judah married her, and her name is put down among the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ. She became after that a woman eminent for piety, walking in the fear of God. Now, you may have a dead faith which will ruin your soul. The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies. “Ah!” says the drunkard, “I like the gospel, sir; I believe in Christ:” then he will go over to the Blue Lion tonight, and get drunk. Sir, that is not the believing in Christ that is of any use. “Yes,” says another, “I believe in Christ;” and when he gets outside he will begin to talk lightly, frothy words, perhaps lascivious ones, and sin as before. Sir, you speak falsely; you do not believe in Christ. That faith which saves the soul is a real faith, and a real faith sanctifies men. It makes them say, “Lord, thou hast forgiven me my sins; I will sin no more. Thou hast been so merciful to me, I will renounce my guilt; so kindly hast thou treated me, so lovingly hast thou embraced me, Lord, I will serve thee till I die; and if thou wilt give me grace, and help me so to be, I will be as holy as thou art.” You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin. To believe is to be holy. The two things must go together. That faith is a dead faith, a corrupt faith, a rotten faith, which lives in sin that grace may abound. Rahab was a sanctified woman. Faith has to be seen to be believed
The allegories of Sarah and Hagar
Hagar was not intended to be a wife; she never ought to have been anything but a hand-maid to Sarah. The law was never intended to save men: it was only designed to be a hand-maid to the covenant of grace. When God delivered the law on Sinai, it was apart from his ideas that any man would ever be saved by it; he never conceived that men would attain perfection thereby. But you know that the law is a wondrous handmaid to grace. Who brought us to the Saviour? Was it not the law thundering in our ears? We should never have come to Christ if the law had not driven us there; we should never have known sin if the law had not revealed it. The law is Sarah’s handmaid to sweep our hearts, and make the dust fly so that we may cry for blood to be sprinkled so that the dust may be laid. The law is, so to speak, Jesus Christ’s dog, to go after his sheep, and bring them to the shepherd; the law is the thunderbolt which frightens ungodly men, and makes them turn from the error of their ways, and seek after God. Ah! if we know rightly how to use the law, if we understand how to put her in her proper place, and make her obedient to her mistress, then all will be well. But this Hagar will always be wishing to be mistress, as well as Sarah; and Sarah will never allow that, but will be sure to treat her harshly, and drive her out. We must do the same; and let none murmur at us, if we treat the Hagarenes harshly in these days, if we sometimes speak hard things against those who are trusting in the works of the law. God’s law will never have the power to save us but thank God that it points us to a Man who can.
The fruitless vine
In looking upon all the various trees, we observe, that the vine is distinguished amongst them so that, in the old parable of Jotham, the trees waited upon the vine tree, and said unto it, “Come thou and reign over us.” But merely looking at the vine, without regard to its fruitfulness, we should not see any kingship in it over other trees. In size, form, beauty, or utility, it has not the slightest advantage. We can do nothing with the wood of the vine. “Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang a vessel thereon?” It is a useless plant apart from its fruitfulness. We sometimes see it in beauty, trained up by the side of our walls, and in the east it might be seen in all its luxuriance, and great care is bestowed in its training; but leave the vine to itself, and consider it apart from its fruitfulness, it is the most insignificant and despicable of all things that bear the name of trees. Now beloved, this is for the humbling of God’s people. They are called God’s vine; but what are they by nature more than others? Others are as good as they; yea, some others are even greater and better than they. They, by God’s goodness, have become fruitful, having been planted in a good soil; the Lord has trained them upon the walls of the sanctuary, and they bring forth fruit to his glory. But what are they without their God? What are they without the continual influence of the Spirit, begetting fruitfulness in them? Are they not the least among the sons of men, and the most to be despised of those that have been brought forth of women? It is only by the grace of God that we become different from others and useful to God as long as we stay connected to the vine Jesus, because He is the Vine and we are the branches.
The peculiar sleep of the beloved
It is God who steeps the mind in drowsiness, and bids us slumber, that our bodies may be refreshed, so that for tomorrow’s toil we may rise reinvigorated and strengthened. O my friends, how thankful should we be for sleep. Sleep is the best physician that I know of. Sleep has healed more pains of wearied bones than the most eminent physicians upon earth. It is the best medicine; the choicest thing of all the names which are written in all the lists of pharmacy. There is nothing like sleep! What a mercy it is that it belongs alike to all! God does not make sleep the boon of the rich man, he does not give it merely to the noble, or the rich, so that they can keep it as a peculiar luxury for themselves; but he bestows it upon all. Yes, if there is a difference, the sleep of the labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. He who toils, sleeps all the sounder for his toil. While luxurious effeminacy cannot rest, tossing itself from side to side upon a bed of soft down, the hard-working labourer, with his strong and powerful limbs, worn out and tired, throws himself upon his hard couch and sleeps; and waking, thanks God that he has been refreshed. You know not, my friends, how much you owe to God, that he gives you rest at night. If you had sleepless nights, you would then value the blessing. If for weeks you lay tossing on your weary bed, you then would thank God for this favour. But as it is the gift of God, it is a gift most precious, one that cannot be valued until it is taken away; yea, even then we cannot appreciate it as we ought. Possession of spiritual blessings in Christ should not make us forget to thank God for our continued enjoyment of his common grace.
Jesus about his Father’s business
Satan took him to the brow of a hill, and offered him all the kingdoms of this world, a mightier dominion even than Caesar had, if he would bow down and worship him. That temptation was substantially repeated in Christ’s life a thousand times. You remember one practical instance as a specimen of the whole. “They would have taken him by force and would have made him a king.” And if he had but pleased to accept that offer, on the day when he rode into Jerusalem upon a colt, the foal of an ass, when all cried “Hosanna!” when the palm branches were waving, he had needed to have done nothing but just to have gone into the temple, to have commanded with authority the priest to pour the sacred oil publicly upon his head, and he would have been king of the Jews. Not with the mock title which he wore upon the cross, but with a real dignity he might have been monarch of nations. As for the Romans, his omnipotence could have swept away the intruders. He could have lifted up Judaea into a glory as great as the golden days of Solomon: he might have built Palmyras and Tadmors in the desert: he might have stormed Egypt and have taken Rome. There was no empire that could have resisted him. With a band of zealots such as that nation could have furnished, and with such a leader capable of working miracles walking at the head, the star of Judaea might have risen with resplendent light, and a visible kingdom might have come, and his will might have been done on earth, from the river unto the ends of the earth. But he came not to establish a carnal kingdom upon earth, else would his followers fight: he came to wear the thorn-crown, to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows. Of what profit would it have been to any man, if Christ had gained the whole world and lost all our souls?