Summary: Discover how God uses unlikely vessels, such as Sarah (who laughed at God), to accomplishment His work.

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To introduce this sermon the following can be done.

• Walk to the platform and ask, “How many of you have heard of ‘Amazing Grace?’” (Most every hand will go up.)

• Next say: “Amazing Grace is one of the most popular hymns of all time. God used a rather unlikely candidate to write that hymn.” John Newton, a former slave trader, wrote Amazing Grace.

• Have congregation sing several verses of Amazing Grace.

• Show the 4 minute video clip from Sermon Spice about John Newton’s life.

Ask, are you ever surprised by the people God uses? I am! There are many things which surprise me about God. I am surprised that he would love me! I am surprised that he would send His son to die in my place! I am surprised that he would use the people he uses! This last surprise, the people God uses, is the one I want to address today. I want to show you an occasion when God used a skeptic. We are going to look at a woman who laughed at God. Her name was Sarah. More importantly, we are going to see our pictures in the mirror. We get glimpses of ourselves as we study the lives of people in the Bible.

Here is the story. Sarah was ninety years old and her husband, Abraham, was ninety-nine years old. God dropped a bomb shell on them. He announced that they were going to have a baby. Can you imagine the stir this news must have caused in the community? When Sarah heard the news she could not contain herself. She laughed out loud. She laughed with a skeptics laugh. What can we learn from this interesting story? In this story we see the ugliness of our imperfections. We also see the beauty of God. This will be our outline.

I. First, look at the ugliness of our imperfections.

• Sarah was not a saint!

• Sarah was not perfect!

• Sarah was not born with a halo around her head.

A. To illustrate Sarah’s humanity let me show you three examples of her imperfection.

(1) At one point in her life she was a party to deception. In fact, this happened twice. This is what happened. She and her husband, Abraham, were involved in a cover up. On both occasions they had moved to a foreign land. Sarah was a beautiful woman. Abraham knew men would be looking at his beautiful wife so he instructed her to tell those men she was his sister. The Bible never tells us why he did this. That little cover up caused great problems for their opponents. This story sounds like a soap opera or something out of the movies. The point is Abraham and Sarah were guilty of deception.

(2) At another point in her life Sarah allowed jealousy to drive her to be hateful to another person. She had a maid named Hagar. Sarah had no reason to be jealous of Hagar; however, she was jealous and hateful toward Hagar. Instead of trusting God to handle the situation she boiled with jealousy. She was unbelieving.

(3) We see her humanity a third time. When God told her she would have a child ,at the age of 90, she laughed. (Gen. 17:17; 18:12-15)

Let’s review! Sarah displayed three unholy actions. She displayed a deceptive spirit, a jealous spirit and she skeptically laughed when God proposed an idea that was beyond her faith.

Have you ever gone into a clothing store and noticed a clearance rack located to the side or back of the store? Those clearance racks often contain imperfect items. They sell for a discount but they are still good. As you study the Bible you will notice that God gets His servants off of the imperfect rack.

• Jacob was a trickster.

• Noah got drunk after coming off of the ark.

• David committed adultery after becoming Israel’s greatest king.

• Peter denied Jesus when he was on his way to the cross.

God uses imperfect people! That should make you sigh a deep sigh of relief. He wants to use you. Even though we are encouraged by this thought, we should understand that God does not excuse unholy or improper behavior?

• God is not pleased with drunkenness.

• God is not pleased with adultery.

• God is not pleased with divorce.

• God is not pleased with pornography.

• God is not pleased with uncontrolled anger.

• God is not pleased with arrogant pride.

So, what should we do about the ugliness of our imperfections. What can we learn from Sarah?

B. I want to show you the consequences of your imperfections, your failures and your shortcomings.

This will help you know how to address these failures.

(1) If I have a blemish in my life and that blemish goes unchecked it will cause me to waste time that could be spent serving God and fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.

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