Today, I’ll talk to you about a woman named Rahab.
Who is Rahab? She’s a prostitute.
Shocked? But that’s our big message for today: God will use anyone who says yes.
The Israelites, under commander Joshua, sent spies into Jericho to scout the area. Out of all the thousands of people in Jericho, God chose a prostitute to help them. (See Joshua 2:1-12)
Let me summarize the story into two points:
1. God chose Rahab.
2. Rahab said Yes.
Think about it.
What if Rahab said, “Not me, Lord. I’m a bad woman. You can’t trust me. I’ve done bad stuff you can’t even imagine. This won’t work. Why don’t you talk to my neighbor, Liza. She goes to church. She doesn’t have a tattoo on her arm like I do. She doesn’t wear miniskirts like me. She reads the Bible everyday. She plays Christian music on her iPod. And most importantly, she hasn’t slept with 854 men like I have!”
Right now, you may be saying the same thing. You may be saying, “I’m not worthy. Let me clean up my act first before God will use me.”
But that’s not how God operates. Here’s the truth: You can’t clean up your act on your own. Just give yourself to Him, and both you and God will clean up your act together.
Here’s one of my favorite passages: God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong… (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Bad History? No Problem.
One day, I was reading the ancestors of Jesus.
Because Jesus was Jesus, His Genealogy was quite impressive. It had the heavy weights of the Bible in that list. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David,…
But in that Genealogy, inserted in various places were 4 surprising characters: Tamar, Bathsheeba, Ruth, and Rahab.
Tamar slept with her father-in-law. The story is so distasteful, I don’t want to write it down here. (See Genesis 38.)
The second woman is Bathsheba, an adulteress.
While her husband Uriah was fighting in the battlefield risking life and limb, she was lying on David’s comfortable king-sized bed making a baby.
Not a very good wife, if you ask me.
Next was Ruth. She was a Moabites widow.
That may mean nothing to you. But to the Jew, she meant bad luck. Let me explain a bit about the Jewish mindset. In their thinking, a foreigner was not saved. Not chosen by God. Not favored by God.
To top it all, Moab was a sinful place. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Plus the fact that she was a widow.
And finally, there was Rahab.
Oh my gosh.
Four women. Not very good choices at all.
Here’s my question: Couldn’t God have selected better women to be in the bloodline of Jesus?
Perhaps a woman who didn’t cheat on her husband?
Or a woman who didn’t sell her body for money?
A woman who was responsible, disciplined, mature?
But that’s how God operates.
If God found these 4 women good enough to become the blood ancestors of Jesus, He can really use anyone.
God isn’t interested in your background.
He’s not interested on where you came from—He’s interested in where you’re going. He’s not interested on what you did—He’s interested in what you’re going to do. He’s not interested on how you’ve failed Him in your past, He’s interested on how you’ll serve Him in your future.
He can use me.
He can use you.
In God’s equation, your past doesn’t define your future.
This Is How God Works
I’ve always wondered why God chose Peter.
He was temperamental. When some soldiers came to arrest Jesus, very impulsively, he pulled out a knife and cut one of the soldier’s ear.
Yet a couple of hours later, in front of a lowly maid, all his guts vanished. The girl asked, “Aren’t you with that Jesus guy? Aren’t you his disciple or something?”
And this brave man said, “Je… what? Jesus? Uh, I haven’t heard that name before.”
“No, I’m sure you’re with him,” the woman said.
Peter said, “Gee woman, you’ve got the wrong number. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Let’s review. Peter was temperamental. Peter was impulsive. Peter was violent. And Peter was a coward. And yet Jesus still chose him to be the leader of the disciples. He in fact became the first Pope of our Church.
That’s how God works. He chooses imperfect people all the time. What am I saying?
You have no excuse not to serve God.
You Have No Excuse
Go through the Bible and you’ll be shocked to see others who how were also unfit to serve God—yet ended up serving God.
· Abraham was too old.
· Jeremiah was too young.
· Gideon was too fearful.
· Elijah was too ugly.
· Moses was too un-eloquent.
· David was too frail.
· Deborah was too plain.
· Zacchaeus was too greedy.
· Mary Magdalene was too sinful.
· The Samaritan woman had too many husbands.
· Bartimaeus was too blind.
· Lazarus was too dead.
· Mother Mary was too unknown.
And yet God chose every single one of them and made them serve Him.
Perhaps you have been giving excuses so you won’t serve God.
· “I’m too bad.”
· “I’m too sinful.”
· “I’m too impatient.”
· “I’m too selfish.”
· “I’m too poor.”
· “I’m too ungifted.”
· “I’m too uneducated.”
· “I’m too quiet.”
· “I’m too sick.”
· “I’m too young.”
· “I’m too old.”
But if God wants you to serve Him, your weakness can’t stop God’s plan for your life. Your weakness, your fault, your sin, your flaw don’t disqualify you from God’s wonderful plan for your life.
God Will Not Waste Your Weaknesses
Don’t be discouraged by your weaknesses.
God will use your weaknesses to bless the world.
Just look at some of my friends who serve with me.
Pio Espanol had a weakness. He was a womanizer. As a married man, he was maintaining 3 girlfriends. Once upon a time, his marriage was on the brink of separation. But today, Pio and his wife Bebot have healed many marriages. (Once upon a time, he was maintaining 3 girlfriends. Today, he’s maintaining 3 Feast areas—Singapore and Canada and the entire province of Rizal!)
Roy Pasimio had a weakness. He had all the vices of the world. For many years, Roy Pasimio would be rarely at home. He’d always be going out drinking and womanizing. God has changed this man. Today, you still can’t find him at home. Because he has become a missionary. Roy, together with his wife Rorie, go to different countries, building God’s Kingdom. Roy started mission Feasts in London, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Middle East…
Their weaknesses went away. But what about weaknesses that stay with us for a long time? Can God still use us?
Alvin Barcelona has a weakness. Fourteen years ago, he had cancer that almost took his life. Even if that happened a long time ago, sometimes, he tells me that he still feels afraid that he’ll die tomorrow. Some self-righteous person might ask him, “Alvin, where is your trust in God? How can you preach?” But that’s his present weakness. Yet I’ve seen how God has used Alvin—in mighty ways—to bless people who have the same fears.
Arun Gogna? This tall, big man has a phobia for flying. How could someone who has faith in God be afraid of flying? But that’s his present weakness. When I flew with him, I felt his fear, and I was tempted to hold his hand. But that would look awkward. Today, this preacher combats his fears and—despite his fear—flies around the world proclaiming God’s Love.
My weakness? I had an addiction that lasted for 20 years. Thankfully, my pornography addiction is gone. But I have other addictions. I continue to battle my approval addiction. Everyday, I need to differentiate between “pleasing others” vs. “loving others”. (I have many more weaknesses. Give me an entire day to tell them to you.)
I wish I had more time to tell you about my other fellow-preachers. Because all our leaders have weaknesses—and they’re open about it. In fact, a very important credential for all our leaders is the ability to confess their weaknesses to others.
We Welcome Anyone In Our Spiritual Family
We accept anyone who wants to join our spiritual family, the Light of Jesus. Anyone can be a member. The wounded. The broken. The sinful. The immoral. The irreligious.
Why? Because Jesus didn’t come to huddle with the holy. He didn’t come to seek the saintly. He came to love the lost and save the sinner.
I believe God created the Church not for the perfect. God created the Church for the imperfect. (If you’re perfect, you don’t need the Church. Or God for that matter.)
And here’s something that shocks a lot of people: We accept anyone who wants to serve in our ministries—even people who don’t have it all together. Because we believe serving has a way of healing you and making you grow.
For example, we accept people struggling with pornography or alcoholism or adultery or premarital sex or homosexuality in our various ministries. Some of those greeting at the door as ushers, or some of those serving in music—they don’t have it all together. Some are still broken. Some are still wounded.
But that’s okay. The Church is for them.
One day, someone came up to me and said, “I’m not married with my partner. I’m separated from my wife. My partner is separated from her husband. We can’t get married because our previous marriages haven’t been annulled by the Church. But we want to serve God…”
I hugged them and said, “Welcome! Come and serve the Lord with me.”
I’ll guide them to get those papers in order—and pray that they’ll get married soon. But I’ll make them servants today. Why?
I believe that it is God who will transform people—not me.
And transformation isn’t an event but a journey. And I will respect that journey. I will walk with them in that journey of transformation.
(Note: Obviously, there are degrees of service. Not everyone can serve as a leader. Leaders will have to be a bit more advanced in that journey of transformation.)
But anyone can serve if he’s willing to serve.
My friend George Gabriel loves to say, “Ang walis, maski madumi, nakakalinis.” You’re like a broom. The broom is dirty. But it still can clean.
Even if you don’t have it all together, if you’re still struggling with various things in your life, you can still serve God and be a big blessing to many people.
Say Yes to God today.
He will do the rest.
My Lack Was God’s Opportunity
I’m not just talking of moral failure.
Others failures don’t disqualify you to serve God too.
This year, my eldest son is graduating Grade school. So last week, my eldest son was filling out an application form for different High Schools. He asked me, “Dad, did you have to do this?”
I said, “Yes I did.” I smiled, “I was rejected.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because I failed the entrance exam. And these High Schools only accepted black and white report cards. My report card was very colorful. They wanted a boring report card, not an exciting one like mine.
Why did God choose me? I had no credentials. I wasn’t intelligent. I wasn’t good in school.
Today, I realize I have no other credential except one: I said yes to God. That’s it.
And that was enough for God.
Have you failed in the past? And are you asking now if God can use a failure like you? All you have to do is look at me. I was a failure. I was not very intelligent. Yet God decided to use me.
If God can use someone like me, God can use someone like you.
May your dreams come true,
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