Failure Is NOT Fatal . . . IF – Part 4

Christ's Charge to Peter by Raphael, 1515. In ...

Christ's Charge to Peter by Raphael

Each of us will at one time or another fail the LORD, and when we do, usually it will be because we have taken our eyes off Jesus. What a perfect time for Satan to tell us that we are finished and our future is destroyed!

That is not God’s message to us.

One of our greatest goals is never to fall. Our greatest glory, however, is not in never falling, but in our Savior Who never fails, Who holds us up, and Who lifts us each time we fall.

We may not be able to reclaim the loss, undo the damage, or reverse the consequences. However, our beautiful Savior restores us, and we can make a new start. We can be wiser, more sensitive, renewed by the Holy Spirit, and more determined to do right.

The best part is Peter’s story does not end in Luke 22:62.

Peter did not have to live the rest of his life with a heavy burden of sorrow and regret.

Instead, after he grieved, Peter ministered to the others grieving over their failures.

Later, Jesus asked Peter to become a leader of the church.

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, 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 again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, 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 Jonah, 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, ‘Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’” John 21:15-18

Jesus had a plan and purpose for Peter. He has a plan and purpose for each of us in spite of our failure.

Failure is not fatal if:
We recognize that everyone fails,
We remember that God’s love and forgiveness are not dependent upon our success,
We learn and grow from our failures, and
We put our failures behind us and go on.

We already know that we need to give our sin to God, but we can do more than that.

When we sin and fail the Lord, we should not give up. We should repent, get back up, and try again. He still has a plan to use us.

Rebuke Satan when he condemns you as a failure.

He is a liar.

Take your eyes off yourself and look at Jesus, saying, “I’m going rise up and keep trying. With God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m going to let God change me from one degree of glory unto another into the image of Christ. I will keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, the One Who is able to keep me from falling.”

If you have fallen, won’t you look unto the Lord Jesus, reach up to Him, and let Him put you back on the Way again? Confess and repent of that sin that made you stumble. Ask God forgive you and renew you with His Holy Spirit so that you will have power to be His witness again.

____________________

*agape love, God-like love, as in 1 Corinthians 13
**phileo love, brotherly love

Peter was upset, here, because of the dwindling degrees of love that Jesus was asking him about. Remember His huge vows of loyalty, loyalty greater than all the others, now squelched by his realization of his humanity, of reality, of how much Jesus knew and how little he knew, how quickly and predictably he failed. May we all recognize our frailty, stop living in denial, and learn to cling to Him ___________________

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Failure Is NOT Fatal . . . IF – Part 3

"The Kiss of Judas" is a traditional...

The Kiss of Judas by Bondone c. 1306

Failure Is Not Fatal IF… We learn and grow from our failures.

Take advantage of your failure!

Don’t waste it; learn all you can from it.

Every bitter experience can teach us something.

How did you learn to ride a bike? You got on and you fell off, over and over.

Falling was painful but you learned a little with each try. Finally, you got on it and stayed on it for five seconds, then ten seconds. Eventually, you succeeded because you kept trying. However, if something unexpected caused you to fall again, you got on again.

Failure is the refusal to get back on that bike.

“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” Proverbs 24:16 Even the righteous stumble. Those who are earnestly trying to live a godly life, fall. They mess up and they sin. They don’t quit; they get back up and continue.

One trademark of those who serve God is that they learn, repent, and get up after falling. Some people think their mistakes are unforgivable, but the Bible says, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1

When you fall, reach up, and slip your hand back into the hand of the One able to keep you! (Jude 24-25)

Failure is not the time to give up. When we fall, we reach up to the Father, and let Him pull us back into active life, back into wholeness, completeness, and healing.

Some of us have failed to do that. Oh, we are saved, but we still have haunting memories like a black cloud. We failed. We know it, and we know others remember it. We need to take our eyes off ourselves and our failure and look up at Jesus.

Everyone has failed. The greatest failure is failure to learn and grow from the experience. People who serve God simply accept God’s grace and forgiveness. They understand and accept that God has promised to forgive, and forgiveness becomes reality for them.

You are never a failure until you give up.

Sorrow is not necessarily fatal; it can mean a new beginning. It can be part of repenting, learning, and getting back up. Peter’s weeping was a healthy response to sin and failure. (Luke 22:62)

“Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

I mentioned taking a look at another person this week: Judas. Judas responded to his failure, betraying Jesus, with worldly sorrow instead of godly sorrow.

“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’”

“‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘­­That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:3-5

Judas made a huge mistake and miscalculation by betraying Jesus.

His reputation and name was ruined.

He quit trying.

He failed to reach up to God.

He failed to look at Jesus for forgiveness.

He failed to repent and get up again.

He failed to learn and grow from his failure.

Judas is an example of how not to respond to failure. He never gave Jesus a chance. He could have had a wonderful testimony of Christ’s forgiveness as did Saul, who had persecuted Christ, then repented, was saved, born again of the Spirit, and became Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament.

Failure Is NOT Fatal IF… We Learn and Grow From our Failures

Failure Is NOT Fatal . . . IF – Part 2

Brooklyn Museum - The Third Denial of Peter. J...

The Third Denial of Peter - Jesus' Look of Reproach by James Tissot

Failure Is NOT Fatal IF . . . We remember that God’s love and forgiveness are not dependent upon our success.

No matter how you have failed, no matter what sin you have allowed into your life, the Savior who died for you still loves you.

He loved you and died for you when you were His enemy. Why would He love you less now? Your failure doesn’t change his love.

The story of Christianity is the story of failed men and women who found new futures through the forgiveness of Christ.

In Luke 22:61 we find a single sentence of explosive power: “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.” What kind of look did Jesus give to Peter? We do not know, but we do know Peter broke down afterwards.

He went out and wept bitterly.

It is to Peter’s credit that all that the Lord had to do was look at him to bring him to the place of recognition of what he had done.

That is the beginning of repentance.

No matter how effective the look of Jesus, it would have been wasted on Peter if Peter had not been looking at Jesus.

But Peter was looking at Jesus.

Jesus had predicted a turning point for Peter back in Luke 22:32: “But I have prayed for you, Simon [Peter], that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

This was that turning point, for it was at that point that verse 61 tells us, “ . . . Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'”

Jesus knew Peter would fail. He knew Peter was not as strong as he thought he was. Still, Jesus loved Peter and prayed for him.

Jesus also knows us, loves us, and prays for us.

I am going to include the next passage of Scripture as if it were a poem, because it is so beautiful:

What, then, shall we say in response to this?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?

It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?

Christ Jesus, who died–
more than that, who was raised to life–
is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that
neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

Failure Is NOT Fatal IF… We remember that God’s love and forgiveness are not dependent upon our success.

_________________

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Failure Is NOT Fatal . . . IF – Part 1

The capture of Christ (detail)

Peter and Malchus

Peter’s tale of failure scares us. It seems too close to our own, sometimes.

However, Peter’s story can encourage us when we realize what we can learn from it.

Jesus told Peter that after he had denied Him, he would return to the truth, and that then he was to encourage his brethren. (Luke 22:32)

If we follow Jesus, we are Peter’s brethren.

So what can we learn?

Failure Is Not Fatal IF . . . We recognize that everyone fails. Nobody is perfect and everyone sins. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

We have all fallen short. I have fallen short. You have fallen short.

Thank God that He forgives our “falling shorts”. (Okay, you can laugh, here. This is one of my husband’s favorite funnies.) Morally, we all have “falling shorts”, those failures and sins that leave us embarrassed. We did NOT mean to sin, however, we did. We all miss the mark.

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20

“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James 3:2

We start out well.

We have wonderful, amazing intentions.

We are excited and we want to succeed in the faith.

We have a desire to be faithful disciples of the Lord.

Yet, we become fearful and distracted from the faith.

We allow the wrong influences into our lives.

We have strong desires that we refuse to deny.

Then we make a bad decision and consequently we sin against our Lord.

Guilt and shame replace the joy of our salvation.

The truth about us appears in Romans 7:18-25:

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

When we let go of the perfection obsession, the fear of failure loses its grip on our lives.

Therefore, Failure Is Not Fatal IF… We recognize that everyone fails.

More tomorrow!

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Failure Is NOT Fatal!

Peter's Denial by Rembrandt, 1660. Jesus is sh...

Peter's Denial by Rembrandt

Last week I watched a children’s spelling bee.

The children had practiced for weeks. Several broke down when they were eliminated. Mothers comforted them, dried their tears, and assured them they were not failures.

Jobs! Marriages! Children! Friends! Failure can feel never-ending. It can make you want never to show your face again. We fear failure and refuse to try. And the worst is when we know we did wrong, failing Jesus.

What can we do? God’s Word tells us.

The Bible records many failures because it contains life as it really is: accounts of real people. Bible heroes are remembered for their successes, yes, but before success, sometimes there was failure, as we saw last week.

This week we will look closely at a couple more, and learn how to turn life’s failures into life-giving experience.

One of our stories is about Peter:

“Then seizing him [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’

“But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.

“A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’

“‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.

“About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’

“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’

“Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 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.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:54-62

We need not be too hard on Peter. The story of the arrest of Jesus shows he was a man of courage.

  • In Luke 22:50, when the authorities came to arrest Jesus, only Peter grabbed a sword to defend Jesus. In this attempt, he not only displayed courage but also chopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. I believe that Peter would have died at that moment to defend Jesus, had Jesus not intervened.
  • During the arrest, Peter “followed at a distance.” That must have taken courage. The other disciples fled, but he did not do that. He followed Jesus—at a distance perhaps—but still, he was there.
  • Peter also managed to ease his way into the courtyard of the building where Jesus was being questioned. Then, “[. . .] when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.” What a dangerous place to be, then, in the courtyard amongst the soldiers who had just arrested his Teacher!

Finally, things got too “hot” and his courage weakened. Peter failed in a way he had sworn he would never fail. (Matthew 26:35)

As the intensity of his denials escalates, we want to say, “You were with Jesus three years! You saw the miracles! You heard His teaching! You had revelation knowledge! How could you fail so miserably?”

But what Luke wants us to see is that we have something in common with Peter: It is easy to fail.

  • Whenever we fail to share our faith because we’re afraid of what people might say about us, we deny Jesus.
  • Whenever we choose to do what we know is wrong instead of right, we deny Jesus.
  • Whenever we trust our own understanding instead of trusting His Word, we deny Jesus.

And, like Peter, something about us tells others we have been with Him . . .

At church, we say, “Praise you, Jesus! I love you so much! I’ll always be faithful to You!”

Peter was sure. But when the test came, he faltered.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

Peter’s story encourages in that we can learn from his failure. That is what we will look at for the next few days.

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