Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Pain of Great Failure

Have you ever had a time in your life you wish you could turn back time or take back what just happened? Maybe something you said to someone. Maybe something you did caused you or someone else pain. Simon Peter felt that way once. Let’s look at his failure with Jesus.

Mark 14:27-30 - Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night," for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee. " Peter said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that today even this night, before before the rooster crows twice you will deny Me three times."

Mark 14:66-72 - Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth." But he denied it saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are saying." And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again and began to say to those who stood by, "This is one of them." But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this Man of whom you speak!" A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him. "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." And when he thought about it, he wept.

Peter failed Jesus just as predicted. Once he realized his failure, he was filled with deep regret. So much so that he wept. Have you ever felt like you failed Jesus?

If we were truthful, we would all probably have countless times when we failed to be all that He requires of us. We all fail to live up to the standard that is set by Jesus. We fail our family, our friends, ourselves and our God probably more than we care to admit.

Some people would look at the times of their own great failures and decide to throw in the towel. Sometimes it’s an accumulation of small failures that make us believe we’ve just messed it up way to much. Some people do throw in the towel. They pack up their heart, and slink away believing they have done too much to be forgiven for.

Maybe this is you right now. Maybe you are the one still sitting in the pew but you have removed your heart from the game. Maybe you have completely removed yourself from the pew and left the church behind. Are you thinking that you have messed up so badly that Jesus could never take you back or He could never forgive you? Are you saying these words to yourself? “This could never be made right in God’s eyes.” “I could never be forgiven for this terrible thing I did.”

Many people say these things to themselves after they have failed. Not only do they say these things to themselves, they believe them. Then they live in their pain and failure for years.

Maybe your the one that has let so many small failures happen that your heart just feels cold and distant. You are going through the motions but your heart is removed.

Today, I want you to know something. You are not alone. You are not the only one that has failed God. You are not alone in your failures and your pain. The truth is, everyone alive has failed. Every person that has taken a breath on this earth has experienced some kind of failure in life. Some may have only experienced small failures. But too many people to count have failed God greatly.

I am one of the many, one of those that have failed God greatly. And yet he has still chosen to use me. Like Peter, I denied Jesus. I said I never knew Him. For eighteen years I walked away from the faith and forgiveness I was given. I lived life my way, and denied the saving power that He had bestowed on me. I failed to understand the gift He had given me. In the process I made many mistakes and lived a life steeped in sin.

For many of those years I believed my sin had become too great to be forgiven. I believed that if I were to come back and be with Jesus I would first need to clean up all the mess I had made of my life. But Jesus didn’t need me to clean up my life. He said to me “Just come home, I’ll do the rest.” You see, you and I are not alone in our failures. We have a Savior that understands our weaknesses.

The bible shows many examples of those that have failed in their service to God. There was David, the one considered to be after Gods own heart; he failed in a huge way. We have always heard so much about his heart being one that sought after God. What we forget about him is his flesh nature and how it led to his failure with Bathsheba.

II Samuel 11:1-4 - I happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Isreal; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw woman bathing, and the womans was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam,the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she send and told David and said, "I am with child."

David goes on to try and cover up his sin. He calls for her husband to be brought back from battle. Plotting, he tries to get Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife so the child will be thought of as his. But Uriah will have none of it, loyal to the King, he will not take pleasure while others are still in battle. In the end, David has Uriah strategically place in battle so he will meet his demise.

Through out this story David has one failure after another. He fails greatly just like all of us do. His first failure was being content in his success. Instead of going out to battle with his men like he always had, he decided stayed behind. Next thing you know we see him up on the roof lusting after Bathsheba. His sin could have stopped there but instead, he follows his fleshly desires. He sends for her and sleeps with her.

What consequences resulted? Bathsheba gets pregnant. At this point, David could have come clean with his sin but he doesn’t. He tries to cover the whole thing up and sends for her husband. Maybe if her husband sleeps with her, he will think the child is his. Then when he won’t go to his wife, David plots to kill him in battle. He sends him out to be slaughtered.

Whew! The deed is done, all has been covered up. Right?

Wrong. You hide from the world but you can't escape the eyes of God. His failure was not to man but to God. As much as he tried to cover up his sin, it could never be done. It was all there in the plain sight of God.

You would think after a horrible failure like this, God would have nothing more to do with David. In our mind, a failure like this could never be redeemed. God sees it different though, He forgives those that love Him.

Asa, the King of Judah was another of those we see in scripture that loved God but failed Him.

2 Chronicles 14:2 - Asa did was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

Asa too had a heart that loved God. But it still didn't keep him from failure.

2 Chronicles 14:11 - And Asa cried out to the Lord his God and said, "Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!"

2 Chronicles 16:1-3 - In the thiry-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-Hadad king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, "Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you silver and gold; come, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me."

Asa was a man after God. He had sought God for direction. When he was up against an army many times larger than his, He sought the Lord for deliverance. Only to do the opposite later in his reign as King. The King of Israel comes up against him and instead of turning to God, Asa turns to neighboring countries. He sends word to the allies of his father to stand with him in battle. God could have provided what Asa needed, but he failed to even consult Him.

So often we do the same. We fail in small ways everyday. We fail to allow God to be there for us. We fail to trust Him. We fail to have just the smallest amount of faith.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end like that. We don’t have to sit in our failures with no way out. God always provides a way for us to be restored. In my next post, we will look at how God does that. But for today, know that you are not alone when you fail. The bible has seen many that failed in small and great ways. God understands and shows mercy on the repentant heart.

Don't let your failures keep you stuck in discouragement. Take heart because there is a God that will come to restore you.

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