Tag Archives: second chances

Second Chances

Peninsula Community Church 

Second Chances

November 12, 2017

Jeremiah 18:5-8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at the potter and the clay. In our study, thus far, we found that God has a purpose and He has a plan for each of us. The question today, however, is what happens when that plan goes awry. What if we fail? What if we fall short? What if we blow it big time? What if we become unfocused and fall into sin or into a failure that feels insurmountable. The reality is, if we are honest, I am sure that we would all have to admit we have been in need of a second chance. We have needed a do over.

I believe this passage shows us, there are two ways to approach God. I also believe how we interpret this passage will be determined by our view of God. If we view God as a mean, angry God, then we will focus on the destruction God planned. If we view God as a loving, forgiving God, then we will focus on His forgiveness and His power to give a second chance. For me, I choose the later and I choose to see God as the God of the second chance.

Through this passage, we come to a conclusion that, sometimes, God allows difficulties to come in order to move us toward His purpose and His plan. These difficulties can overwhelm us and can cause great pain. The truth is, these difficulties come most often because we failed to follow God’s plan, His will, and His way. We also see that these things are never meant to destroy us, but to direct us back to Him. That is where our view of God makes a difference in our approach to God.

When we view God as a loving and forgiving God, we will know that when we see failure and hopelessness, God sees new beginnings. We see mistakes and failures that throw us off track and derail our dreams, but God sees fresh starts. We see the mess we have made, but God sees an opportunity to renew and rebuild us. The enemy’s lie has been and continues to be that we are unforgivable and that we are too far gone to receive God’s grace and love. The enemy’s lie is that we will be forever in the place of despair, because that is just the way it is.

As I was preparing for this message, I thought about the game of golf. In golf, there is what is called a mulligan. A mulligan is a chance for a do over. For those who are golfers, you know how it works. You hit a bad shot and you have the right to hit another ball. The goal is to make your second shot much better than your first shot. It is a second chance. It is a do over. Just like golf, God offers us a mulligan in life. He overs us a do over. He offers us a chance to get it right and do a better job by His grace.

As we think about this subject, we find that Scripture is filled with those who experienced second chances. Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of these. First, we have King David who was a murderer, a liar, and an adulterer (2 Samuel 11). David the called of God. David the one who had it all, failed big time. He took Bathsheba and through an ungodly relationship, she became pregnant. To make matters worse, he tried to hide the sin by having her husband come home and give him some time with his wife, so he would think it was his child. When that did not work, he arranged to position her husband on the front lines where he was sure to be killed. Then the “kind and gracious king” could take her as his wife, thereby hiding his indiscretion.

As we read the story, we find that his sin grew deeper and began to effect more and more people. That is the problem of sin. It grows deeper and it has a larger reach than we might ever imagine. But, here is the amazing thing, although his sin seemed to be too great, he was able to experience the grace of the God and was given a second chance. How do we know this? We find that God sent Nathan to speak into David’s life to bring change (2 Samuel 12:1-15). God used Nathan. David came to his senses when he realized the magnitude of his sin.

Here, David was at a crossroads. He could receive the message of grace or he could reject God. I often wonder about David! What was his mental state? Had he reached a point where he felt he had made it into the clear and that he was successful in his ruse and cover up. Too often, we think we have done a good job of hiding our sin only to find it is exposed later, and sometimes it is exposed when we least expect it. For David, I wonder if he was dealing with the weight of what he had done. I wonder if he felt the weight of his sin. Regardless, what we do know is that David confessed, repented, and was given a second chance (Psalms 51).

The second illustration is Jonah who walked in disobedience. Remember Jonah. He was called to the people of Ninevah, but rather than obeying, he ran to Joppa (Jonah 1:1-3). Now to be honest, his reason for running was justified in one sense. Ninevah was one of the major cities in the kingdom of Assyria. The people of Assyria and the city Ninevah were horrific people. They were brutal people. They would skin people alive. They would cut their enemies up in pieces and then send them to their families and cities with notes warning that this would be their fate, if they messed with them. They would cut the heads of the opposing kings off and parade them around their victory celebrations.

In Jonah’s rebellion, he boarded a ship and headed to Joppa. He ran from God, but God sent a storm. The men on board, who were not believers, began to call to their gods, as the storm was more fierce than any storm they had faced. The decision was made to throw Jonah overboard when they recognized his disobedience had caused the problem (Jonah 1:4-16). Then God brought a whale along to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Three days he was in the whale’s belly. For three days, Jonah had an opportunity to think about his future and his destiny. On the third day, the whale had gotten tired of Jonah and he was vomited upon the shore (Jonah 2:10). Jonah then ran to Niniveh, preached the word of the Lord, and the whole city came to know God (Jonah 3:4-5). He was given a second chance.

And then we have Peter, who was filled with fear. How many times have we fallen short or failed to accomplish God’s will because we are filled with fear? Peter was overcome by the fear of the people in Jerusalem. He was worried about his future and he was worried about how the judgement against Christ would impact him. Although he failed and was motivated by fear, he was given a second chance. Jesus went to him specifically after the resurrection and called Peter to feed his sheep (John 24:15-19). We see the fulfillment of that throughout the Books of Acts.

So, how should we respond to the second chances of our lives? First, we must repent. To repent means that there is a change of action that leads to a change of heart. We must remember there is a big difference between repentance and confession. Confession is important, but it is not the end all. Confession puts things on the table, but does not bring healing. We live in a nation of confessors, but not so many repenters. Repenters not only confess their sin, but they work toward change. When God honors you with a second chance, by His grace, we need to take advantage of that and change, so that the recurring sin or issue does not continue to happen. Billy Graham noted that we cannot know the God of the second chance unless we recognize the wrong we have done or the sin we have committed. We also need to be aware that God’s grace is not a get out of jail free card. We must never cheapen God’s grace by continuing to recklessly commit acts that diminish who we are in Christ and wound ourselves or others.

Second, we change what we can change. Too often, we are trying to change things that are beyond our power to change. We expend a lot of energy trying to change that which is outside our ability and scope to change. We try to change people and we try to change their actions, but this can be a frustrating adventure. We cannot change others, but we can certainly change ourselves. In the end, it requires personal responsibility to change what is wrong in ourselves.

Third, sometimes we need encouragement and help along the way to recognize that God is at work and He is giving us a second chance. We can miss what God is doing in us and through us. Paul reminds us to help restore those who have been caught in a sin (Galatians 6:1). Perhaps you need a Nathan. Perhaps you need a boat load of unbelievers to set the record straight. Perhaps you need a personal encounter with Christ to motivate you to change. However it comes, we must change. Know this as well, while we cannot change others, we can be a resource for encouragement and hope as others navigate the results and the stigma of sin they face.

In all of this, I am reminded of Lamentations 3:21-23 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. His second chances come by way of His mercy which is a response of His faithfulness. Listen to Jeremiah, he calls this to remembrance and it brings him hope. There is hope in God no matter what I do or fail to do. His mercy is always there. It reminds us that no matter what I might have done yesterday, I have a fresh start today, because His mercies are new and His faithfulness is great. He is a God of the second chance. So today, where do you need a second chance? Is it a sin you have committed? Is it a broken relationship? Is it a failure that you have experienced? Is it a mistake? God knows and is already sending you His mercy, if you receive it.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Easter the Power to Overcome – Do Overs

Peninsula Community Church

March 28, 2016

Easter the Power to Overcome – Do Overs

John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

We are in the midst of a series on the strongholds and the mindsets that prevent us from being all that we have been called to or created to be. We started the series by briefly looking at some of the strongholds that are evident in our lives. Last week we were reminded that the debt of our sin has been nailed to the cross. We were reminded that the enemy of our souls loves to throw accusation, lies, and half-truths at us in hopes that we will take the bait and fall victim to his ways. But the cross reminds us that the debt of sin charged against us has been paid and the cross is the receipt of that debt.

Today, we will look at a second aspect of our life in Christ. As I noted last week it is important for us to establish an understanding of who God is before we move on to deal with the issue of strongholds and mindsets more specifically. That is why we looked at the cross last week and today we look at the results of the resurrection. While the cross reminds us that our debt has been forgiven, the resurrection reminds us that we have the power to begin again. The resurrection gives us the power to start over regardless of our past sin or our past failures. In essence we get a do over.

When I moved to New York, in 1979, I began to “try” to play the game of golf. When I first began to play, I played with some people who did not make the game very much fun. They continually corrected me. They criticized my swing, the way I was standing, the way I approached the ball, how I hit the ball, and on and on. They were so critical and such perfectionists that I wanted to give up the game which I did do for some time. But a number of years later I was asked to play again. After some persistence on their part and reluctance on my part, I agreed to play. I was surprised when there was a totally different environment this time. They gave instruction but it was done in a way that was not harsh or belittling. In fact, as we played I hit my normal bad shot. When I did that they said something that revolutionized my life in relationship to golf. One of the guys asked me if I wanted to take a mulligan. Of course I had never heard of that before because the people I had originally played with did not give mulligans. They were serious if not legalistic about their golf and they did not believe in such a thing. For those that may not know what a mulligan is, it is a second chance. It is a do over. You hit a bad shot and you have an opportunity to hit the shot again.

My message this morning is a message of do overs. It focuses on those around Jesus who failed and failed big time. You see when we talk about mindsets and strongholds in our life there is no greater place for this to occur than in the area of failure and blown opportunities. We feel life is over and there is nothing left to do. This comes as well when we have committed that sin or that thing that we believe has derailed us for life. The result is that we feel that our life has come to an end and there is no hope for a better future. You see this is much like the friends that took me golfing earlier in my life. Each failure was overly emphasized and I was reminded how horrible a golfer I really was. Instead of hope, I experienced disappointment and wanted to give up. But the resurrection is a reminder that we have a chance to start over. Because He lives, we have hope and we have a chance for a do over.

As we think about the resurrection and do overs we cannot help but think of the disciples who were negatively impacted by the events of Christ’s death. Think about it, the disciples who were by Jesus’ side for three years were nowhere to be found during His trial or the crucifixion. All of the disciples except for John ran and hid. Thomas doubted Jesus. Peter, as prophesied, denied his relationship with Jesus. We find the disciples are confused and when they received a report that Jesus is alive they reluctantly went to the grave site. This was in part because they struggled to believe the story that He had risen but also because they were afraid they might be arrested by the Roman guards.

Let me ask you this morning do you ever feel confused? Do you feel that you have been betrayed? After all Jesus said He would never leave them? Do you ever feel you have failed so big that there is no chance of forgiveness or opportunity to start over and make things right? Do you feel there are too many pieces to the puzzle of your life that are not fitting together? The fact is there are so many questions and so much brokenness around us. But we must hear the rest of the story to understand the day of new beginnings.

While all of this was happening we must be reminded that actions of the disciples did not prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead. That is the power of who Jesus is. Our lack of belief in Jesus or our sinful condition, no matter how bad it is, does not change who Christ is nor does it change what He has done on our behalf. We find in the story of Jesus that He rose again. Though He was dead, He now lives. But here is the amazing part of the story for me. As soon as possible, Jesus purposely goes to see the disciples. This band of believers who had failed to stay strong when it mattered most were in hiding but Jesus knew where they were. And most importantly, He knew the condition of their heart.

If you are familiar with the resurrection story you know that Jesus sought out the disciples. Jesus knew their pain. He knew the hurt, confusion, and rejection they were feeling. They should have known better but they still acted in a way that betrayed who they were. They failed to follow Jesus’ words and yet Jesus wanted to see them. It is noteworthy that while over 500 people saw that Jesus was alive, the scripture hones in on his visits to the disciples.

First, Jesus encountered Thomas who was a doubter. He doubted everything. How many have doubts today about your future and the hope you have? Doubt is such a robber of faith and it can cause us to be frozen in the past and in only what can be seen in the present. Notice that Jesus did not discredit Thomas’s doubt but gave him a chance for a do over. He allowed Thomas to touch His side and His hands and in so doing Thomas found a spirit of faith arise in him. He had a do over.

Then Jesus went to see Peter. He knew Peter’s rejection and denial. While Peter had failed, Jesus saw beyond his failure and saw his heart. If you remember, Peter was a passionate person. He was quick to speak out. Peter defiantly had promised Jesus that he would not forsake or leave His side. In that moment there was no doubt that Peter meant and believed what he said. He had ever intention of fulfilling his word but as we know from the crucifixion story, it was not long before Peter denied his relationship with Jesus, and he did so not once but three times. Can you imagine the heart of Peter in the moment when the rooster crowed? Can you imagine the guilt and the rejection he felt? What did Peter do, he ran and hid. Rather than heading to the cross, he headed to a back room in Jerusalem.

But here is the amazing part of the story. While Peter was confronted by Jesus and was questioned about his love of Jesus there is a greater story here. Notice that each time Jesus asked about Peter’s love for Him, Jesus commanded Peter to feed the sheep. That speaks to the fact that Jesus still trusted Peter to fulfill His mission. Peter was given a second chance. He was given a do over.

So what do we learn from this? First of all we see through the story of the resurrection that Jesus is always concerned about us and He is ready too give us a second chance. There is nothing that you can do to cause Him to stop loving you. Some of you who are here may feel that you have blown it and that there is no way that God could love you or forgive you. But here is the good news. He is seeking you out today. He wants you to know that He loves you and He desires that you come close to Him.

So how do we do that. We surrender your fears, your doubts, and your failures to Him today. In so doing, we must remember that our failures and shortcomings are not the end. They are a chance at new beginnings. There is hope and there is an opportunity to start over. Jesus is calling and He is coming to you today. He wants you to know that no matter what you might have done, life is not over. He loves you and He is extending His hand to you today.

Secondly, we must be aware that we need a do over. The problem too often is that we do not accept the fact that we need a do over when we have failed. We can be deceived into thinking that everything is ok, when it is not. It is also possible that no one has ever shared with you that you have the opportunity for a do over. Here is the fact we need to understand. Jesus has extended a hand of forgiveness. To go back to my golf analogy, there have been times where I have refused to take the mulligan and it cost me each time. Instead of being on the green in three or four I ended up with 7 or 8 strokes before landing on the green. The result was that my confusion and frustration was magnified. It did not have to be that way but I allowed it. So then the key is to recognize our need for Christ in our life and accept his do over.

And thirdly, confession is always a necessary process in this discussion. John was clear about this when he stated that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Paul also stated For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:22a-25). Here is a fact we can live with. We all need forgiveness. We all need restoration. Because we have all blown it at one time or the other. But thank God for do overs.

So as we close do you need a do over? If so, Jesus is here and He is extending His hand to you. Will you take His hand and hear His heart? He is saying I am ready to give you a do over. It comes by way of confessing the issue that is at the core of your heart. And it requires you to make whatever change is necessary to never go back there again. Are you ready? Let’s pray.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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