Finding your Spiritual Address - 4
9th December 2007
Thank You that You are present with us. Thank You for Your word and for the opportunity to sing praise to You. You are a holy God who reigns supreme in every way in our lives. Sometimes it is hard to understand – hard to see Your love and kindness in the events of our lives, but we know through Your word and the cross that You love us and are seeking our good. As we look at Your Word, help us to leave today with something that helps us live our lives in a way that is pleasing to You.
At the age of 20, Steve and his friend Steve started a small business in their garage. Now it is a 2 billion dollar business. We know it as the Apple Company. When Steve Jobs was 30, the board decided that someone needed to go and it was him! He was fired from the company he started and owned – I don’t know how that happened. At the time, he was said he was devastated – but realized it was the best thing that ever happened to him. In the next 5 years, he started a company called Next, and then Pixar. And Next was bought by Apple and had all the technologies for the iPod and iPhone.
This is about how to turn failure into triumph and defeat into victory. If we are going to operate out of the address that God has called us to, we need to overcome the failures of our lives. Not career failure, but spiritual, moral failure. Sin. How do we deal with it when we sin? The reality is that we will all sin. We will all have a significant moral failure at some time in our lives. It happened to most the Biblical characters. Abraham gave his wife to another man. Moses: murderer; David:adulterer and murderer. When we sin, we are in good company with everyone.
No temptation has overcome you but such as is common to man.
Because of the fall, we don’t realize how prone we are to sin.
If we don’t understand it and deal with it, we’ll never do anything great for God.
The Biggest Loser in the New Testament (to coin a phrase from a show I’ve never watched): - The person who went from defeat to victory. Peter is the great comeback story of the New Testament.
The Great Statement
Right after the last supper, Jesus is talking to the disciples.
31 Then Jesus ^said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.' 32 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee." 33 But Peter answered and said to Him, ["Even] though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." 34 Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this [very] night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times." 35 Peter ^said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too.
This is a bold statement by Peter. Jesus is saying – here is what is going to happen – and Peter says, NO! I think he was sincere and genuine. Probably a little arrogant, but I think he really meant it. He failed to recognize the tendency to move toward sin and failure.
The Great Failure
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a certain servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 But he denied [it] before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." 71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another [servant-girl] saw him and ^said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72 And again he denied [it] with an oath, "I do not know the man." 73 And a little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are [one] of them; for the way you talk gives you away." 74 Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a cock crowed.
FROM LUKE: And the Lord turned and looked at Peter 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
To see this man who was so convinced of himself to fail so greatly right in the presence of the one he declared he would die for. I have that bold because we like to talk about how God watches over us – which is good – but he also watches us – and we need to understand that. He had his eyes on Peter throughout this event.
Peter wants to quit. But it doesn’t end there. This is not the end of things. For Peter, the failure isn’t final. There is another chapter in his life – and he moves from this failure to the one who gave us portions of the Bible and the one who will be at the pearly gates to let us in. No, that is kind of a myth. But we need to look at what to do when we fail and what NOT to do. Then we will be able to learn to respond correctly.
1 John 1: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
That is the first response we normally have. To be unwilling to admit that we failed. This is saying that it is critical that we get to a point in life where we recognize and begin to confess that we have blown it. We don’t like having it pointed out – it is hard. It is not a good feeling, so the tendency is to cover it – and it gets you in a lot of trouble.
There was a pilot who punched in his flight plan into a computer – in Brazil – and the plane went the wrong direction –and he realizes that he doesn’t know where he is. The copilot recognized the error – but the pilot wouldn’t admit to it – and they had to crash land the plane. A good portion of the passengers were killed because someone was unwilling to recognize what he had done wrong.
We can be that way – we blame other people. If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. We have to acknowledge our failure.
Second, we tend to OVERCOMPENSATE for failure. We try to prove ourselves. We take action to try to make up for it. You see this with a parent, who for one reason or another is unable to take time with a child – and overcompensate and try to buy the child everything he or she wants – thinking that will make up for it. That is how we are in life. – We try to make up for things we have done wrong and that is not the way to go about it – we become an enabler.
Third – when we fail morally, we allow guilt to control our actions – our next step. Because of the guilt, we let that determine what we do next. That is a mistake. When you sin, there should be a sense of conviction – but guilt leads to over activity, lack of activity or the wrong activity. Guilt rarely causes us to do the right thing – it normally leads to more failure.
For Peter, he has a lot of these responses – but we will see how he bounces back. I think it comes down to recognizing who we really are. Job – speaking of family celebrations –
Job 1: 5 And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.
I think Job recognized how flawed we are – and Job would offer these sacrifices for his kids – ‘just in case’. But we need to have the attitude – if I did not keep right with God – and have the sense of walking with Him – recognize, I too can end up in a bad situation - to make serious mistakes in my actions – so I had better guard that – and keep watch over myself.
Let’s look at how Peter responded:
John 21: 15 So 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, "Tend My lambs." 16 He ^said to him again 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, "Shepherd My sheep." 17 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 all things; You know that I love You.”Jesus ^said to him, "Tend My sheep.
Simon, do you love me more than these. This ties to Peter’s proclamation – though everyone else fall away – I will die with You. Jesus is asking – do you really love me more than these? Peter failed in an area of his life he perceived to be a strength. Our tendency will be the same. To fail in the area we think we could never fail in. THAT is why we have to watch. That is why we have to guard!
As Jesus corrects Peter, He is not rubbing it in. In fact, He is doing the opposite. Forgiveness is assumed by Jesus. He doesn’t tell Peter to do penance or this or that. Jesus is giving Peter a chance to affirm himself. To say, YES! Tend my lambs. Jesus is saying – it is over, we are not discussing it any more. It happened, you blew it – it is over. Peter is out fishing – he is not doing what he is supposed to be doing – so Jesus comes to him and it is like, that is done – let’s move on. You were forgiven at the cross a few days ago – that is not an issue. It is time to move on. There is no room for guilt. Somehow, we are convinced that feeling guilt for a long time is a good thing. Maybe it is because we want those who sin against us to feel guilt. But Jesus says, keep going.
Just as Peter denied Christ 3 times, so Jesus is asking him 3 times – 3 confessions/commitments/affirmations of his love for Jesus. We see Jesus’ confidence in Peter after he failed. Peter was the number one guy – and Jesus was counting on him. Jesus is just saying – You are still my guy. After what you did, you are still the one I have chosen to lead these guys – so do it. He is expressing confidence in Peter.
Thomas Edison – One of the first incandescent light bulbs. He gave it to an apprentice – and he tripped and broke it. Okay – let’s get back to work – and they spent another batch of hours getting it ready – and when they were done – he gave it to the same apprentice to move. That is confidence in that person.
Christ does the same thing – forgiveness is immediate/instantaneous. It happens the moment you sin. Immediately –but there are circumstances that we will have to deal with, but at that point where we are, God wants to begin with us as if we have a clean slate. God is ready to start with you.
Luke 22:31 – This is before the last supper – he comes to Peter - 31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded [permission] to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
This is going to happen to you – but when you have returned, get back to what you need to be doing – forget the guilt – get back to what I have called you to.
3 Practical things to do.
First – Allow forgiveness to be your motivation.
Our tendency is to make our achievements our motivation. But that doesn’t always work in our moral life. Forgiveness is the only thing that can motivate you – it needs to be your anchor – your center. Jesus spoke about the prostitute – He who has been forgiven much loves much. It is the amount you understand his forgiveness that you will love him.
Second – Recognize his confidence in you. He has service and ministry for you to do.
Phil 1:6 – He will finish it. The circumstances in life that seem like you will never achieve – God believes in you.
Third – Go back to that spiritual address – that calling. When you return, go back to that which I have told you to do all along. It is a simple thing for us. It is easy to complicate that. What is it that God wants us to do? It is simple – strengthen your brother – live in service to others, that they may grow in relationship with Christ. It is the great commandment and the great commission. Sure, there is a lot that goes into that – and we are all doing that in different ways. Are you doing that? If you are – you are doing what you need to do. If you are not pursuing those things – loving God and your neighbor, then you are not moving forward – not living in our spiritual address.
Lord, we thank You. We ask You to help us. When we have failure in our lives that we might understand your forgiveness and move forward. Like you told Peter, take care of my sheep, take care of my people, shepherd My flock. In Your Name we pray. Amen.