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God Uses Imperfect People

Saturday, January 23, 2010

by Dr. Paul Chappell

"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."

Hebrews 11:32-34

Past mistakes do not cancel God's future plans.

Mistakes happen to all of us, but perhaps they are not more overplayed than when a politician has a slip of the tongue in front of the camera. Once, Ronald Reagan visited a third world country to make a speech and uttered the following phrase nine times before being corrected by an aide, "The United States has much to offer the third world war." On another occasion, during the Watergate scandal, Secretary of the Treasury John Connally said, "I hope that Spiro Agnew will be completely exonerated and found guilty of the charges against him." One of the more humorous slip ups came from President Kennedy as he was speaking before a group of Berliners in West Berlin, Germany. The year was 1963, and Berlin was divided by a wall that separated many families. To show his support for the Berliners, President Kennedy wanted to relay the phrase "I am a Berliner!" in German, which would have been "Ich bin Berliner!" but President Kennedy actually said "Ich bin ein Berliner!" which means "I am a jelly doughnut!"

Have you ever made a mistake in what you meant to say that later seemed humorous? I know I have! While slips of the tongue can be laughed at later, important life mistakes are no laughing matter. Falling into sin, giving in to temptation, and making wrong choices can lead to a life of misery, regret, and consequences.

I'm sure we could all think of friends or colleagues who have made wrong choices that landed them in a mess. Sometimes, we can even look back on our own lives and see past mistakes and regrets. However, can these mistakes be overcome? Can God still use us despite our mistakes? God's overwhelming answer is "yes," and He shows us some examples of imperfect people He's used.

Gideon may be remembered for his bravery on the battlefield, but don't forget his fearful resistance when first presented with God's plan. God strengthened his faith over time (Judges 6-7). Also, Barak led ten thousand men into battle to conquer Sisera, but was so unwilling to go at first that he begged God's prophetess, Deborah, to go with him (Judges 4). Samson was the strongest man on earth during his time and singlehandedly conquered many of God's enemies, yet lust caused his downfall (Judges 14). Perhaps the greatest example of God's use of imperfection is the story of David. His great reign as a godly man was marred when temptation overcame him and he committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11).

In each example, we see a child of God who made what could be considered a major mistake-lack of faith, resistance, lust, murder and adultery. Yet in each example God used them even after their mistakes. Gideon went on to defeat the Midianites, Barak conquered Sisera's army, Samson destroyed his enemies before his death, and David led Israel in a godly manner. God used their mistakes for His glory.

God can use you despite your past mistakes. True, consequences will come, and God may not use you as He once desired, yet He still has a plan for your life. Past mistakes do not cancel God's future plans.

Have you thought your life was ruined because of a past mistake? God can still use you. You might have made a detour, hit a speed bump, or fallen off the road of life; yet God's plan is that you would repent, continue following Him, and allow Him to use you to further His work on earth.

Take a few minutes to meet with God. Confess any mistakes you've made. Seek Him out of a heart of repentance. God does not hold on to grudges or mistakes. He promises to forget the mistake you confess, and continue to use you despite your past.

To learn more about the ministries of Lancaster Baptist Church and Pastor Chappell, please visit lancasterbaptist.org, paulchappell.com, or follow him on twitter.

Daily Bible Reading
Exodus 7–8 | Matthew 15:1–20