Faith Church

A Second Chance – Sermon from 4/27/2014

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I golf they call it a mulligan, in life we call it a second chance.  We all need them and the good news is that God gives them.  After failing Jesus three times on the night he was arrested, Peter really needed a second chance and it was here, along the Sea of Galilee, that he got it.  If you are in need of a second chance, then join us on Sunday to hear of God’s grace and learn what’s involved in finding a forgiveness that leads to a new beginning.

To understand what Jesus is doing coking breakfast for the disciples along the shores of Galilee we have to go back to the night he was arrested.  After being led from the Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

to the home of Caiaphas the High Priest,

Inside the House of Caiaphas

Jesus was questioned by the Sanhedrin which was made up of all the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  Following along behind Jesus in the shadows of the night was Peter who most likely made his way up this stone path to the courtyard outside the home of Caiaphas.

Peter was hiding by a fire where he could listen to Jesus being questioned by the religious leaders and he heard them making all kind of false accusations against Jesus.  The Sanhedrin was looking for a way to find Jesus guilty of a crime so they could send him to Pilate and the Romans to be condemned to death.  While Jesus was being questioned, so was Peter.

In the courtyard

Courtyard outside of Caiaphas’ House

Peter was recognized by a servant girl as being part of the disciples who traveled with Jesus so she asked him, aren’t you one of his followers?  Peter replied I am not.  A second time Peter was asked if he was one of Jesus disciples and again he denied it.  A third time Peter was asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples who was with him in the olive grove, or the Garden of Gethsemane, and a third time Peter said absolutely not and at the same moment Peter heard the cock crow and he remembered how Jesus told him he would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed.

Three times Peter failed Jesus.  Three times he denied that he knew him and refused to stand in support of him.  That failure weighed heavy on Peter’s heart and mind even after the resurrection so in an act of grace and mercy, Jesus extends to Peter forgiveness three times.

It was after breakfast that Jesus took Peter aside and asked him, do you love me, and three times Peter had the opportunity to say, Yes, Lord you know that I love you.  Three times Peter had the opportunity to stand with Jesus and proclaim his love and affirm his devotion and commitment.  What Jesus gave Peter here was a second chance.  No longer would Peter be defined by his failure, he would now be redefined by his devotion and commitment to Jesus.

All of this took place here along the Sea of Galilee.

Along the Shores of Galilee

Today on this site where Jesus once built a fire and cooked some fish stands a church that his literally built upon the rocks.

Inside the Primacy of Peter, the Rock foundation of the church.

You see, Jesus said that he was going to build his church on Peter which is why he gave him that name.  Peter, or Petra, means rock.  The Primacy of Peter is a church built on the rocks of this shore where we believe Jesus not only forgave Peter and gave him that second chance.

The Primacy of Peter Church

When Jesus told Peter to feed my sheep he was saying – lead my people and build my church, which was exactly what Peter did.

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible because it reminds me that God is willing to give us all a second chance.  Abraham, the father of Israel, didn’t always follow the directions God gave him.  He failed to trust God several times but God gave him a second chance.  As a young man, Joseph was filled with pride and ego but God gave him a second chance and in time God gave Joseph great authority over all of Egypt.  Moses was placed by God in the very center of Egyptian authority and power, literally in the house of Pharaoh, but instead of using that power to free God’s people, Moses ran away, but God gave him a second chance.  Out of a burning bush, God called Moses to return to Egypt and lead the people of Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  Jonah was a prophet called by God to preach to the people of Nineveh but instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah ran away and was eventually tossed into the sea, but through a big fish, God gave Jonah a second chance.  King David also got a second chance after his moral failure and adulterous affair with Bathsheba.  Time and again God gave people a second chance to stand up and be faithful and Jesus extended this kind of grace and mercy to people throughout his life.

When a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus for him to condemn, he had every right to pass judgment on her. Jesus and all the people of the community could have easily pronounce her guilty and sentenced her to death, but Jesus gave her a second chance.  That same day, however, Jesus also gave the entire crowd a second chance.  In that story the woman was thrown in front of Jesus and the angry crowd picked up stones getting ready to kill her.  They then turned and asked Jesus what they should do.  It says Jesus bent down and wrote in the sand and while we don’t know what he wrote, many people believe that he simply started writing down the sins of the people gathered around him.

Maybe he wrote down… adultery, stealing, pride, greed, gossip… The crowd, curious at what he was doing, started reading the words on the ground and then Jesus said, if anyone is without sin – let him be the one to cast the first stone.  When they realized that they too were sinners, it says they started dropping their stones and walking away until no was left to condemn the woman.  Jesus then said to her, where are they?  Is there no one to condemn you, and she said, no one sir.  Then Jesus said, neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more.  Jesus gave her a second chance, but he also gave everyone in the crowd a second chance because after coming face to face with the reality of their own sin, the crowd was shown mercy by Jesus and sent home.  Whether they understood it or not, they also got a second chance.

Our God is a God of second chances.  In golf it’s called a mulligan, in children’s games it called a do-over.  When we don’t get it right the first time, God gives us another chance to be faithful and stand strong.  When Jesus took Peter aside after breakfast and asked him three times, do you love me, he was giving Peter a second chance and in this story we being to understand what a second chance for us is all about.  When we are given a second chance, or if we desire one, the first thing we need to do is come to Jesus who helps us face our failure.

Being questioned three times clearly reminded Peter of his three denials and it forced him to come to terms with the reality of his failure.  Jesus didn’t let him off the hook he forced Peter to remember what happened, be honest about it and confess it, but Jesus doesn’t hold it against him.  Jesus didn’t let the woman caught in adultery of the hook – when he said, go and sin no more, he was making sure she understood that her past actions were sinful – but he didn’t hold it against her.  He gives her a second chance.  Adultery was not going to define this woman’s life and the denial of Jesus was not going to define Peter’s life but for them to move forward they had to first own up to and confess their failure.

God gives us a second chance in life but we have to own up to our failures and confess our sin.  This doesn’t mean we wallow in despair and focus on the negative, but it is important for us to be honest and real before God and at times other people and admit that we are sinful and broken and that we have failed God and others.  As they say, confession is good for the soul – it is honest and freeing and cleansing and so it’s important to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that we have moments of failure when the choices we have made have broken relationships and jeopardized our futures.  Maybe it was spending beyond our means, being unfaithful in our marriage, not being more supportive of our children or placing unreasonable expectations upon them.  We have all made choices that if we could change – we would.  Maybe even this week we wish we could take back words that were said or choices that we made and while we can’t go back and change the past, we can be honest about it, confess it and seek forgiveness.  That’s what Jesus did with people – he helped them face their sin and confess their failures so they could accept the forgiveness God offers.

Jesus forgave Peter and Peter grabbed hold of that grace.  A second chance isn’t just about confessing our sin it’s also about accepting God’s forgiveness and allowing that grace and mercy to help wipe away the past.  What we see in Peter is a man willing to accept God’s forgiveness.  He didn’t keep his distance from Jesus wallowing in a pit of despair, in fact it says when he heard that it was Jesus on the shore he jumped into the water and made his way to Jesus as fast as he could.  Forget the boat and the fish, forget everything – Peter just wanted to be with Jesus.

These are not the actions of a man who is holding on to his past, Peter accepted God’s grace and mercy and he was looking to move beyond his failures.  If we are going to make the most of the second chance God gives us in any situation then we also need to learn to accept the forgiveness God offers which often means learning to forgive ourselves.  As long as we are holding on to our past sins, we can’t move forward, all we can do is re-live the past.  Peter didn’t relive his failure in the courtyard of Caiaphas.  He didn’t remain in that moment and allow it to define him.  Peter used the mercy of God and the love Jesus offered to help him forgive himself.

For many of us, this is the hard part of getting a second chance – forgiving ourselves.  In fact, many second chances are wasted because we don’t forgive ourselves enough to be able to move forward.  So how do we have grace with ourselves?  How do we stop kicking ourselves and beating ourselves up for the things we have done or failed to do?  Well, once I figure it out, I’ll let you know, but what I do know is that I’ve learned to have a measure of grace with myself by seeing grace and forgiveness at work in others.  When I am able to forgive someone else or when I see people forgive others it shows me that forgiveness is possible and so forgiving myself is possible.  As a pastor I can easily see how God can forgive others and when I encourage them to make that forgiveness their own I have to tell myself that same forgiveness is also there for me.  So stories of forgiveness and grace are important for us to hear because it shows us how we can be gracious with ourselves.  Maybe that is why the Bible is full of stories about God’s grace and forgiveness.  If God can forgive Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah and Peter – then God can forgive me.

So second chances begin by facing our failures and learning to forgive ourselves but then the whole point of a second chance is making the most of the future God opens up for us.  Look again at Peter along the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus didn’t ask three times, Peter, do you love me and then say, Thanks, I appreciate that.  What Jesus did was give Peter a true second chance – he opened up the future for Peter to be all God created him to be, which was the Rock or the foundation of the church.  The second chance for David allowed him to be a better King of Israel.  The second chance for Jonah allowed him to be an effective prophet to the people of Nineveh.  A true second chance means we are given the opportunity to live for God and serve God in some capacity.

In many ways I feel like my life has been a glorious second chance.  In college I spent some time running away from God.  Like Peter I knew what God wanted from me, but I failed and yet God gave me a second chance.  God confronted me with the reality of my failure, but didn’t hold it against me, instead he forgave and said, ok Andy, now it’s time to get to work.  Love me, live for me, and serve me.  And I’ve tried to make the most of this second chance.  Any time God gives a second chance God is giving us the opportunity to live life differently.  In a marriage a second chance means we learn to forgive and be patient and communicate better.  As parents a second chance means we pay more attention, offer more love give more support, discipline and direction to our children.  In finances a second chance means we order our lives according to God’s principles of earning, saving and giving.  A second chance really does mean that we live differently and so we need to look at how God is calling us to live differently.

For Peter, living differently and feeding God’s people meant preaching and teaching with boldness and courage, which he did.  What does it mean for us?  What does a second chance look like for you?  Where is change needed?  Where is grace is needed?  God offers each of us a second chance but it does mean confessing our sin, accepting God’s forgiveness and then moving forward with faith and trusting in God’s purpose and plan for our lies.  Paul, a man who got a huge second chance, understood this. He said, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Pressing on toward the goal, that’s making the most of God’s second chance.

Next Steps
A Second Chance

1. Take an honest look in the mirror
• Are there failures you need to acknowledge?
• Sins you need to confess?
• People you have hurt of disappointed?
Own up to these shortcomings and confess them to God and others.  A second chance begins with some honest reflection.

2. God offers forgiveness and grace so we need to learn how to forgive ourselves.  Read the following scriptures that tell us that God forgives, we are to forgive and so we CAN forgive ourselves.
• 2 Chronicles 7:14
• Psalm 103:8-13
• Micah 7:18
• Matthew 6:9-14
• Ephesians 4:32
• Colossians 3:13
• 1 John 1:9

3. A second chance means God opens the door to our future.
• What door is God opening in your life today?
• What do you need to do to move through that door?
• Who can help you take this next step?

4. If God’s second chance for you includes stepping out in faith to connect with Faith Church, join us this evening (Sunday, April 27) at 6:30 for our new member orientation.

Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14

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8:15 am: Traditional Worship Service with Nursery
10:45 am: Contemporary Worship Service with Nursery and Children’s Church

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