God Is Up To Something Great: Mistakes Can Become Miracles!
by Jurgen Rausch
Failure is Not in Their Vocabulary
I am amazed at how some people can pick themselves up after a fall, and how the phrase ‘failure’ doesn’t seem to be in their vocabulary.
Colonel Sanders was turned down over 1000 times before finally somebody agreed to give his secret recipe a shot!
Walt Disney was turned down over 300 times in his attempt to get financing for this crazy idea called Disney World.
Michael Jordan was such a failure at basketball that he was cut from his high school team only to overcome his handicap to become the greatest player ever. This is what he said:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
It’s absolutely true that yesterday’s failures can be the seedbed for tomorrow’s successes.
God can take our failures, sins and mistakes and use them to make us into better people.
This is not to excuse bad behavior or somehow make God’s grace cheap, but the truth of the matter is that God can turn our past mistakes and failures into success stories.
Just like a trial can become either a test from God to grow you or a temptation from the devil to defeat you, so your failures can either become building blocks for growth or road blocks of shame and inaction that keep you paralyzed.
Biblical Superheroes Who Failed
Did you know that the Bible is full of stories of spectacular failures that become building blocks for growth and success?
Just think about the who’s who of the Bible. Most of the superheroes of the Bible were people who overcame incredible personal failures.
A careful study of the Bible reveals that most of the great figures of Scripture experienced failure at one time or another, yet those failures did not keep them from effective service for God. Though they failed at some point, and often in significant ways, they not only recovered from their failure, but they used it as a tool of growth—they learned from their failure, confessed it to God, and were often able to be used in even mightier ways. Hampton Keathley
So name your superhero from the Bible and I can almost guarantee you that I can tell you about a failure or two in their lives.
Abraham anybody? The father of faith was fearful and thus lied about his wife and just about got killed! How is that for heroism?
Joseph maybe? His impetuousness and youthful arrogance caused a huge rift in his family and set events in the motion that not only broke his father’s heart but led to his own imprisonment.
Moses perhaps? I don’t need to tell you how he smote an Egyptian in a fit of rage.
Shall I go on? Maybe David, the greatest King of Israel is your superhero. Well, the great king not only had an affair but also arranged for the death of her husband. How is that for greatness?
All of these great people had spectacular failures in their lives the likes of which would have disqualified them from ever serving in leadership roles in most of our modern churches!
The Greatest Failure Of All Times
But above all of them ranks one who, hands down, wins the trophy for least likely to succeed and the one with most spectacular failure of all.
Do you know who that is? Peter. That’s right, the great Peter!
Peter, the great apostle and one of the top three leaders of the early church, had huge failures. Peter the bishop of Rome; Peter the author of New Testament books; Peter of the inner circle of Jesus’ closest friends. That Peter!
That Peter had a litany of failures. Where shall we start? Let’s see:
Ø His jockeying for prominence among Jesus’ disciples
Ø His misplaced passion that resulted in chopping the ear off a soldier
Ø His rebuke of rebuke Jesus and attempt to block his path
Ø His brilliant conclusion that Jesus was dead and that all was lost
That’s the Peter I am talking about, and I haven’t even mentioned the greatest failure of all, which was what? His denial of Jesus made worse only by his boast that he would never ever deny the Lord, ever!
Unbelievable! Such failures would absolutely be the ruin of many a man.
Let’s take a closer look at the shocking denial of Jesus:
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22: 54-62
What a sad story. But there are a couple of really key things in what is otherwise a sad tale of failure.
The Tug of War Between Good and Evil
The first thing I want you to notice is the tug of war between good and evil over Peter; the same tug of war that goes on for all of us.
There is Jesus praying on the one hand, and Satan seeking to sift him on the other hand.
Peter was clearly a disciple of the Lord (we would call him a Christian) and yet Satan was looking to “sift all of (him) you as wheat.”
Meaning that Satan was determined to show that there was no kernel of faith inside Peter’s stalk and that the wind would blow him away and expose him for the fraud Satan made him out to be.
Satan was waiting to show that, if given the right circumstances, Peter would even deny Jesus.
That’s the pull of darkness on all of us and points to our capacity for spectacular failures.
Yet, in this tug of war between good and evil, evil is not going to win!
The last laugh goes to Jesus who, even as Peter was being sifted, would pull him the other way: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
It is remarkable that Jesus would intercede for Peter, and that while hell is pulling him one way, heaven is also pulling him another way.
I want to say to you that if you bow your knee to Jesus and ask him to come into your life and do your best to harmonize your life to what He wants for you, from that moment on the pull on your life toward darkness will be countered by God’s mighty pull toward light!
There is a tug of war that explains our ability to commit colossal failures in life but it also explains how you don’t have to go to the dark side.
Failures Not To Cheapen Grace
We’re not talking about committing failures so that you can see God’s grace or experience the God of the second chance.
I am all for God’s grace that picks up the pieces and puts Humpty Dumpty back together again, but I am even more for God’s grace that can keep you from failures and sins in the first place!
The tug of war means that you can choose to land in a place of non-failures and save yourself the pain and grief of failures in the first place.
Every sin has its consequences and every failure has its aftermath.
David had to live with the consequences of his failures all the rest of his life. Jacob had a physical scar that reminded him and all those who saw him limping, of his previous failures.
Peter had to go through the agony of public reinstatement and Paul always carried with him the burden of having murdered people.
If your marriage ends, you will be divorced. If you commit a crime, you will be a criminal. If you are a substance abuser, your body will pay the price. Jesus can save you, but these consequences still remain.
It is better that God’s grace keeps you from failures in the first place, which is a far greater testimony than the one of having been redeemed from your failures.
The tug of war suggests that you can end up on the side of heaven by keeping you safe and away from the miserable mistakes so many people make.
Which was Jesus’ prayer for Peter and for every one of us: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail”.
That’s the tug of war I am talking about.
Life after Failure!
The second thing I want you to notice is that even if you fail, there is life after failure.
I love the fact that Jesus spoke of life after failure. In fact, Jesus spoke of it before the failure actually happened.
Do you realize that Jesus saw it happen before it happened, and nothing about his feelings and attitude toward Peter changed just because of what would happen? That’s so remarkable.
Jesus saw it. He saw it before it happened. He predicted that it would happen and spoke of life after it did happen.
“Jesus knew in advance what Peter would do. Nevertheless, He didn’t stop him. He simply told him, ‘When you get back to your senses, you will be useful again in my Kingdom’.” Tony Evans
Most remarkable of all is that Jesus chose Peter even though he knew that Peter would deny him three times!
“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Jesus said and yet it did! Peter’s faith failed.
Jesus knew that and yet it changed nothing toward his thoughts of Peter. Look at what he says: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
It’s remarkable that, as far as Jesus is concerned, there is life after failure, even as horrible a failure as Peter’s three fold denial of the Lord himself.
There is life after failure! It will be a different life. It will be a life with consequences, but it is still a life worth living!
Jacob would always carry those scars. David would always have upheaval in his house and Peter would always carry the burden of the memory. But all three, and countless others, would experience an incredible life of blessing after spectacular failures.
The night sets in. The denials happen, one worse than the other. The cock crows three times. Jesus looks at Peter with love. Peter weeps bitterly. Then the morning breaks!
Every time you get to the darkest hour of your night God gives you another day!
The morning breaks and Peter is given a new day to do what is right, to repent of his sin and then to go on and do even greater things.
Greater Things than These!
And that brings me to my last point. Peter, because of his colossal failures, would be able to provide a ministry that he otherwise would never have been able to.
“When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter came out of this like a rock. He never went into that space and place again. Never again would he deny the Lord or even come close.
It gave him a unique perspective with those whose hands grow weak and feeble.
On more than one occasion Peter would encourage his fellow believers not to give up nor to abandon and deny.
It gave him a sensitivity that others would not have, and that he himself would never have had, had he not experienced that failure.
God’s grace is so amazing and far reaching that He can even use your failures!
Hand Him Your Lemons!
So here is what you walk away with this morning: Seek God’s mercy and experience his amazing grace.
Give him your lemons and let him make lemonade!
Give him the things in your life that aren’t so good, the things you are not so proud of and pray, “Lord, here they are. I wish my life were different, but it’s not. I wish I could change things, but I can’t.”
Then let God do his work! God’s grace can get into the most impossible messes of our lives and turn the mess around.
Even if the mess is our fault, if we confess our sins to him He will forgive us and make something beautiful out of the messes of our lives.
“If we let Him work, God doesn’t waste a thing. And if you give Him a chance, he certainly won’t waste you – He’s up to something great in your life.” Tony Evans
Let him take your lemons and make lemonade!
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.