WHAT CAN GOD DO WITH ME - WEEK 4
At this point, I think we can all agree that God values us, loves us.
However, do you find yourself wondering why? What can God do with us, with our mistakes, our weaknesses? He loves us in spite of ourselves but...when we look at our lives, so often we just see the mess. We see our mistakes, all the things we’ve done wrong, all the things we’re doing wrong. What can God do with this mess?
Well, just as we have scriptures and examples that show us how much God values us and how we should value ourselves and others, we have examples of what God can do with a flawed human.
One of the most well known apostles is Peter. He is the apostle that preached at Pentecost which is an important event. It was the first sermon after Jesus’s death and after the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles.
So, with this being the first full proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the implementation of the new law. The choice of who to preach the message would seem pretty important. So, let’s take a look at the man who preached this historic sermon.
There are several places in the scripture where Peter’s words are quoted.
One of the first is on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark 9 and Luke 9.
Jesus went up on a mountain with Peter, John and James. While on the mountain, the three apostles witnessed Jesus briefly shed part of his human guise and speak with Elijah and Moses.
We know all three apostles were in awe but we don’t know if John or James said anything.
We do know, though, what Peter said. It’s related in two different gospels: Mark 9:5-6 and Luke 9:33. Peter says, “It is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
The Bible, also, give some commentary about this statement from Peter. Luke 9:33 describes Peter as “Not knowing what he said.” Mark 9:6 describes it as “For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.”
Basically, Peter was babbling. He gets in quoted in the scriptures and it’s for babbling in fear.
So, Peter had a tendency to babble, to speak without thinking. Yes, the same Peter that taught the sermon of Pentecost.
Need more proof?
Let’s look at another time Peter was featured in the scriptures.
In Matthew 16:21, Jesus warns the apostles of His coming death. Jesus tells them He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed and then rise on the third day.
Peter decided he needs to speak to Jesus about this and, in Matthew 16:22, Peter takes Jesus to aside and proceeds to rebuke him. Yes, Peter rebukes the Son of God, telling Him, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
Remember, Peter left everything to follow Jesus. He has seen every kind of disease healed, a multitude fed with a few loaves of bread and fish, demons driven out of people and the dead brought back to life. He even addresses Jesus as Lord while rebuking Him.
Peter really didn’t think that through.
As before, the scriptures tell us how Peter’s comment was received. Jesus immediately responds to him in Mark 16:23. Jesus turns to Peter and states, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on things of God but on things of man.”
Pretty harsh statement. Even the pharisees were only called vipers, hypocrites and unwashed tombs. Peter get to hear Jesus call him Satan and a hindrance.
Once again, Peter’s mouth got him in trouble, pretty severe trouble. So, you might think that such a harsh rebuke personally delivered by Jesus would get Peter to stop talking before thinking it through. This should be enough for Peter to finally get his act together, right?
Well, during the Passover supper, the night before Jesus’ arrest and death, we get to see if Peter has finally learned to think things through.
During the Passover feast, Jesus warns the apostles about what is to come: He will be betrayed and abandoned.
Peter, of course, speaks up immediately. He protests and declares, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Luke 22:33
Jesus warns Peter that this isn’t what will happen. He warns Peter that Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows.
Peter, again, doesn’t stop to think, he immediately protests, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
We all know how that worked out. Peter not only denied Jesus three times. Worse, according to Luke 22:61, Peter met Jesus’ eyes right after the third denial. Not only did Peter deny Him, Jesus witnessed one of the denials.
That had to hurt.
Luke 22:62 shows that Peter’s response. Peter went out and wept bitterly.
This man’s mouth has gotten him into trouble again and again and again. Peter is a mess that can not get it together. Who in their right mind is going to entrust this guy with anything important, especially such an important sermon as the one on Pentecost.
Who would do that? God would and did.
On the day of Pentecost, all remaining eleven apostles were there but it was Peter who gave the sermon. Despite everything Peter had done, every mistake, every time his mouth had run off without waiting for his brain, Peter was still given the Holy Spirit and was still allowed to preach at Pentecost.
More than allowed to preach at Pentecost, Peter was chosen to go to Cornelius.
Cornelius was a special man. In Acts 10, the Bible tells us that Cornelius was a good man who desperately wanted to serve God. He was such a good man and so earnest in his desire that God took a personal interest in making sure Cornelius heard the gospel. In Acts 10:3-6, God sent an angel to speak directly to Cornelius and have him send for Peter, which Cornelius immediately did. God, then, in verses 9-19 sends Peter a vision, telling Peter that the Gospel is for the gentiles as well as the Jews. Which Peter, at first, resists but finally gets the message. Then, when the people sent from Cornelius arrive, the Spirit (either the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit) tells Peter to go with the men to Cornelius.
God chose the apostle best known for repeatedly sticking his foot in his mouth to teach this man. God was taking a personal interest in Cornelius receiving the gospel and God sent him Peter.
Peter may have been a mess but God still used him as a teacher and a leader.
Even before Peter received the Holy Spirit, even when Jesus was still alive and Peter was regularly engaging his mouth before his brain, God used him. Just look at Matthew 16:13-19.
The passage begins with Jesus asking His apostles who the crowds are saying He is. They give Him several answers including Elijah and Jeremiah. Then Jesus asked the apostles who the apostles think He is.
As usual, Peter immediately answered. In verse 16, Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And that time, he got it right.
Jesus praised Peter’s answer, describing it as an inspired answer. Jesus even stated that Peter’s declaration of who Jesus was would be the rock Jesus would build His church on.
This happened while Peter was still in the habit of speaking before thinking and God used this to make a strong declaration, a deep knowledge of exactly who Jesus was in front of all the apostles.
So, God used Peter when Peter was still a mess which is good news for us.
God can use people when we’re not perfect. Even now, with our weaknesses and mistakes and failures, God can use us. We can still be a foundation God builds on. We can still serve God and help others.
God isn’t looking for perfection. He’s looking for the willing. He’s looking for Peters who will still serve, still teach, still go when sent, still try regardless of how badly and how many times he’s tripped up and failed before.
So, can God use you when your life is a mess? Yes, you just have to be willing to let Him.