The above listed names are Biblical measuring sticks. These men were used for Godís purposes. The Lord chose these men for His purposes. Today, we are going to look at these men of God: a drunk, a coward, a murderer, a slacker, an adulterer, a denier, and a Christian persecutor with one purpose in mind: to show how God used them and how He will use all of us as His children if we accept His will instead of our own.
Most everyone Christian or otherwise know of Noahís story. Here is the scoop in a nutshell. God was displeased with the route taken by mankind. He decided to start over by wiping out the evil in the land. Right away, nonbelievers shout that a loving being would not first wipe out all the people or send them to hell, that is a whole other sermon all together, but wait, God was and is merciful because one man found favor in Godís sight. Noah was the man of the hour.
Genesis 6:9 Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
He walked with God. That statement is profound. Did Noah physically walk with God, probably no, but he was righteous, he did as the Lord instructed and found favor. Noah loved the wine a bit much, so before going any further, we cannot use Noah as an excuse to get plastered. More on that in a moment. Letís get back to boat building.
God instructed Noah to build the ark with certain specifications. It took Noah 120 years to finish it. The ridicule he received from the public had to be rough no doubt. Think about it. He is building a huge boat on dry land. He took it on the chin. He could have stopped and joined the masses, but he trusted God completely and completed the task as instructed.
Genesis 9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Obviously, by my statement about Noah being a drunk, I wanted to grab your attention. The Bible teaches that it rained for 150 days I believe. Some of you are thinking that if you were on a boat with every kind of animal times two, you might want a drink too, but the Bible furthermore teaches against staying away from strong wine and drunkenness. If I have offended you, please, do not look for an apology. The point about Noah like all the other ones we are going to see is that he is flesh, not perfect by any means, but still usable to further Godís purpose.
Father Abraham. Most people know that name. The Lord many times in the Old Testament was called, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Yet, earlier, I labeled him a coward. Again, I label not tt maliciously slander, but to bring a point to focus.
Let us first look at how Abram stayed faithful to the calling of God in Genesis 12:1-3: The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Can you imagine what Abram did next? He didnít clean out his hear. He did not ask, ďWhat did you say?Ē He, according to verse 4, did as commanded. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him.
First example of Abram acting as a coward comes when he and the family unit arrive in Egypt.
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."
I do not wish to rant here, but folks fear of death drove this man, chosen by God to be a great nation, to deny his very wife. God had already told him plain and simple what the plan was going to be! Yet, Abram let fear dictate his actions instead of glorifying the Lord.
God reunited Abram to his wife, and Pharoah understood the errors of his ways a few verses later. But there is more to tell!
Genesis 15 teaches about the covenant between Abram and the Lord. Here is part of it. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.Ē
Abram responds with the always classic BUT. But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
We are just like Abram are we not? Yes, he followed when first instructed, but then God told him in todayís terms, I got your back, Abram interjected and replied, But God!Ē
But nothing. Check out The Almightyís reply. Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the starsóif indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Like Abram, we do not view time as God does. We live in a world of instantaneous gratification. We not only want something, but we gotta gotta got to have it right now! Just as Adam followed Eve, so Abram followed his wife.
Genesis 16:1-4 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
Neither Abram nor his wife could wait for God. Regardless of their intention, Abrham now has a son, just not the one God will provide again not for Abramís will, but for His own purposes. God blesses Hagarís child by the way, but thatís another time.
Despite early fears and disobedience Abram known as Abraham demonstrates the second strongest example of following faith in the entire Bible in my opinion. Most of us here know that God delivered Isaac to Abraham. Now, God plans to test Abrahamís commitment.
Genesis 22:2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
This time there is not a record of Abraham saying, ďBut God.Ē He simply followed his instructions. If you are a parent reading or listening to this, think of your child or children. Remember how soft their precious skin felt as you held them for the first time. Remember how your heart melted when a little voice said, Moma or Dada. Now imagine having to sacrifice them.
Genesis 22:7-8 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
Earlier I stated that Abrahamís willingness to follow Godís instructions without question was the second strongest example of following faith. The first one is found in Abrahamís words, ďGod himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." JESUS CHRIST. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.
Abraham did not kill Isaac naturally. The Angel of the Lord stopped him before the deed was done and commended him on his faith.
Folks use the excuse of not being good enough to come to church let alone to accept Christ as Savior. We have looked at two examples of regular folks who God used despite their having flaws. The next example is no different. For the sake of time, I will attempt to be brief. Moses killed an Egyptian that was beating a Jew. Bottom line: Moses was a murderer. He was cast out of the land. It is after this ordeal, Moses comes face to burning bush. Moses received his proverbial marching orders from the Most High. God told him that he would be used to lead Godís people, the Israelites out of captivity.
Exodus 3:10 10 ďSo now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
How does Moses respond? Look at verse 11. But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
But Moses said!?! Did he not hear what God said? But Moses said. It doesnít matter what Moses said. Moses asked the question that we all do when great tasks are at hand. ďWho am I to do this?Ē Allow me to tell you who you are. You are the one Christ died for. You are the one that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for. You may see yourself as a drunk, a nobody, a coward, or a killer, but after the blood of Christ covers you and cleanses you of sin, God sees a new creation. God sees his children who worship and glorify His name. Moses by himself could not lead a dying man to life support, but with God with him, and directing him, everything went according to Godís plan! Are we any better than Moses? The book of Romans instructs that there is no favoritism with God.
Let s now look at Jonah. Historically, Jonah would not come in the middle, before David, but I wanted to place a slacker in the middle. God gave instructions to Jonah, to preach salvation to the people of a place called Nineveh, but Jonah ran away from the Lord. How many of us have run away from God? Here is an example: Letís say a person accepts Christ as Savior on Sunday, but by Tuesday the world has them back in the fold of the muck and mire. Are they truly saved? Not for me to say, but they heard the Lord knocking on the door of their heart, they opened it, invited him in, and now are avoiding Him just like Jonah. Scripture teaches that God caused a storm to blow up at sea. Ultimately, through a casting of lots, Jonah ended up in the water. Oh, right, the big fish came and swallowed Jonah.
One positive thing occurred in the belly of the beast. Jonah prayed to the God, he was trying to avoid. It was not a prayer of desperation exactly. He praised God for allowing him to live and not drown. Listen to the verse
Jonah 2:9 ďBut I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.Ē
God commanded the beast to release Jonah. Prayer. Itís our privilege to pray to our Lord God Almighty. If we stop running from God, pray to him with gladness in our hearts regardless of what is holding us, be it a fish, sadness, or any other form of bondage, we will be released by His glory.
Every time David is preached or taught, the phrase, ďa man after Godís heartĒ is brought up. I wanted to look at two points/parts of Davidís life. Once little children were brought to Jesus just so He could place His hands on them and pray. The disciples acted like celebrity security and chewed out those who brought the children. However, Jesus had a different view on it.
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
We must be bear the child like faith that is total belief and trust in Christ, Godís Son, the very Word. This ties us back to that young boy David. Most know the story. David took a stand in faith to face a giant monster of a man. Due to Davidís age and being just a boy, the soldiersí armor and weapons were useless. David however, was prepared to do battle against Goliath. Hereís what David says to Godís adversary:
I Samuel 17:45-47 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
One rock to the head later and David was victorious. Remember though before the precious blood of Christ cleanses us, we are like dirty rags. No one is righteous before a Holy God. King David, while possessing a strong faith in God still fell short to sin. He and another manís wife conceived a child. He used his power as king to have the other man placed at the front lines of the fighting at the time. Guess what. God still used David to fulfill His plans. As a result of his sinful liaison, Davidís child with Bathsheba died. Before the childís death, David proved his faithfulness to God.
II Samuel 12:16-18 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died.
Itís not always about our pain. God does as God sees fit. Davidís response to his childís death confused the servants at first. See, David washed, changed his clothes, and ate. His people did not understand why he would act in such a way. David explained:
II Samuel 12:22-23 "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
The part that hangs with me every time I read it is, ďI will go to him, but he will not return to me." That is the child like faith in the God that is the absolute, the beginning and end, the Great I Am that makes David a man after Godís own heart. He knew without a doubt what God had done and would do in his life. I pray that we all hold fast to that faith in Him when we are confronted with tragedy brought on by life or in some cases sinful behavior.
Peter of the book of Acts is not the same Peter from the Gospels. Physically, the body is the same, but the Peter of Acts was a much more defined in faith apostle than the denying Peter of the Gospels. Peter was one of the more passionate followers.
Matthew 16:17-18 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
After Jesus explained to Peter why He was washing his feet, Peter begged to be completely washed missing the point obviously. Peter upon learning that Jesus was going to be killed went as we say, plum off.
Matthew 16:22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Rebuke means To criticize or reprove sharply; reprimand. So here is Peter, a man full of compassion for the Lord, meaning well, but missing the point. We are all sometimes like Peter on our Christian walk as far as being fired up. Thatís not entirely bad if we are directing our efforts for Christís will and not our own. Our Lord compliments him by calling him ďthe rockĒ on which the church foundation would be placed to calling him Satan. Peterís passion for the Lord no doubt was true, but he was listening to Christ through human ears rather than spiritual ones.
Peter was by todayís medically induced, pill popping world, bi-polar by his actions. He goes from defending Christ to denying Him. As the scriptures teach, when Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, Peter took a sword and attacked the arresting guards. One manís ear was cut off. Afterwards, Peter sadly lives up to one of Jesusí prophecies. Prior to the arrest, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the crowing of a rooster.
Matthew 26:69-75 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The point to this is simple. Even the most fired up followers of Christ can fall and stumble. The difference between real believers and the real deniers is real believers may stumble and fall, but we reach out for Christ as he always holds us in His hands. Jesus and Peter have a little later on after the resurrection, but thatís a different sermon.
Jesus Christ took one of the most devoted Christian persecutors and transformed him into one of the greatest apostles and Christian figures in the world. Saul who would be Paul is credited with writing under Godís inspiration 13 books of the New Testament. He truly served Christ despite his earlier attempts to kill Christians, including by the way, a man named Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The same man who once hated Christians became one of the great leaders all because of conviction, and a real relationship with Christ. If God used all these men don't you think He can use you?