Second Chances

Second Chances

Have you ever felt as if you missed an important opportunity?  Have you had a falling out with a friend and feel it is now a lost cause? Maybe you said or did something that cannot be taken back. Sometimes by grace we are given a second chance.

Our Pastor just finished a series on the book of Jonah. Jonah liked when things were going well and his way. He rejected the assignment God gave him to preach to the ruthless pagan city of Nineveh. He refused to go, hopped on a ship going the opposite direction and as weJonah know got thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. Vomited by the fish – Jonah was given a second chance. He did go and give God’s message of repentance to the city and they responded. What preacher gets angry when people do what he tells them to do? Jonah did!  Sadly, the story ends with God questioning Jonah because he had received great mercy and compassion but his heart for others that were different had not changed.

The disciple Peter had been one of the three closest to Jesus. He witnessed most if not all of Jesus’ miracles and Jesus spent a lot of time at Peter’s house in Capernaum. Best buddies, right?

After following the crowd to the court yard to watch what was happening, Peter ended up denying even knowing Jesus. Why?  Fear can cause us to do terrible things. Peter’s guilt and shame was overwhelming but there was no way to take it back. Later he was with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them and understood there was more to learn. But in the meantime, he and some of the others went back to what they knew best – fishing.

It was in the fishing village of Tabgha that Jesus greeted the disciples with a cooked

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Tabgha

breakfast on the shore.  Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love ME?” and Peter each time replied Yes Lord – you know my heart. The reply to “feed MY sheep” was his mission. God was not finished with Peter and was giving him a second chance.  Peter had been told he would be the “rock” of the Church, one of the founders –and that had not changed because he messed up.

That little beach has an eighth century church built on the rock where it is believed they ate.  It is called “Mensa Christi” – “Our Lords’ Table”.  The Church is known as “The Primacy of Peter”….Peter was forgiven, restored and called to special service for the Lord as Head of the early Church. He obeyed God’s calling with great courage and fervor. We have copies of his letters to the early believers which hold great teaching and truth for us today. Peter used his second chance to change the world by preaching the Good News.

This should be a great encouragement for us. No matter how far we have gone or what we have done, God is full of love and mercy. We can come to Him with humble hearts and ask for forgiveness. No, not everything broken can be fixed. God often gives us something new and better to reach for with our second chance.

From Veggie Tales – Second Chances

You see God’s a God of mercy

God’s a God of love

And right now, He’s gonna lend

A helping hand from up above

Praise the Lord, He’s the God of second chances

You’ll be floored how His love your life enhances

You can be restored from your darkest circumstances

Our God is the God of second chances!

second chances

 

 

 

Hope is Alive

Hope is Alive

We call today “Good Friday” but over 2000 years ago it was anything but good.  The disciples of Jesus’ whole world had been turned upside down in one day. Confusion, womenatcrossDisbelief, Fear, Heartbreak and Shock were just a few of the emotions they were feeling. Rabbi, healer, miracle worker, they believed Jesus was The Messiah! The band of friends had just celebrated Passover together. It couldn’t possibly be real – it didn’t make sense – but they watched with their own eyes as the soldiers nailed Him to a cross like a vile criminal!

Some of the men and women, faithful followers of Jesus, gathered together trying to grasp the situation and others were in hiding. It was now the Sabbath and there was nothing they could do. How could everything go wrong in such a short time? He hadn’t done anything to deserve what happened. The disciples had put all their hope in Him and now it seemed gone.

While  Jesus hung on the cross He forgave the repentant thief, showing us that it is never to late to ask for forgiveness until our last breath.  On Passover HE provided the one and only perfect, holy and final sacrifice. His last cry  “It is finished” was not a cry of defeat but of victory.  The Temple curtain kept everyone and everything away from the holiness of God.  When the massive curtain tore in half it showed the access we now have to come before a Holy God through Jesus’s own blood sacrifice.

Jesus’ body had been quickly laid in a borrowed tomb just before Sabbath began. Early the next morning a few women gathered to go to the tomb and properly prepare His body for burial as was tradition.  They wondered how they would move the stone sealing the grave and if the soldiers would give them grief.  jesustombBut as they approached the burial site they were shocked to see the stone had already been rolled away….

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…..                                          Matt 28:5-7

Jesus is alive! He soon after met with them, ate with them and explained the Scriptures about Himself. Christians around the world celebrate Easter because our hope is not based on earthly wishful thinking but assurance from God. Jesus’ sacrifice provides forgiveness and restoration in our relationship with The Father. His resurrection offers us power and victory for everyday.

Jesushands

Tragedy can strike quickly and indiscriminately and it may seem hopeless. We are left reeling to try and make sense of the circumstances and figure out the next steps. That’s how the disciples felt on Good Friday.  Right now our daily lives are disrupted, loved ones are distanced and many people have died.  But Our Hope is Alive!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.        John 3:16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.         Heb 4:15-16

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,      Heb 6:19

 

                           We are loved.  We have help. We have hope. We can have peace.

 

Because He Lives

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,

He came to love, heal and forgive

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow

Because He lives  all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living just because He lives!

The Hope of Easter

The Hope of Easter

Spring brings the promise of renewal and new life. Even here in New England while we 1stcrocusare enduring our 4th Nor’easter, we know Spring will come. We long for warmer weather and outdoor activities. We look for the buds on the trees and bulbs poking through the ground. The birds have returned from their southern migration and daylight is lasting longer. Despite how things look right now, we have hope.

egg-innestNature burst forth in expectancy and hope. We plant seeds and wait for their growth with a promise of flowers or food. We watch the birds as they lay their eggs in expectant hope of new life. Easter is celebration of remembrance and thanksgiving because God is all powerful and keeps His promises. Easter is about hope. It does not matter who you are, where you have been. Because of God’s great love He offers a new life through faith in His Son.

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 (NLT)

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”   Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)jesus3crosses

Jesus forgave that repentant thief and promised him peace and a place in heaven.  He also had told His disciples that He would be leaving but come back for them.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” … 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.    John 14:1-6 (ESV)

But on that day – we call it black Friday – The disciples were horrified and devastated as they watched Jesus die. All their hopes and dreams seemed gone. Many ran and hid in fear. He had taught them so many things but they just didn’t understand what went “wrong”. A few friends hung around to do the only thing they could…give Him a proper burial. When the women arrived at the tomb, the stone was rolled away and an angel greeted them;

 “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead,      Matt 28:5-7 (ESV)

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Surprise, joy, wonder, awe, hope… ran through their hearts and minds!

Later the apostle John wrote,   …but these (scriptures) are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  John 20:31 (ESV)

We believe that Jesus lived a sinless life, died for our sin on the cross, was buried, rose from the grave on the third day and is alive and coming again. This is our promise. This is the hope of Easter.

“Pardon for sin, peace that endures, His presence with us to comfort and guide, Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”   (from the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness)

Because He Lives by Gloria Gaither

Because He Lives

Because He lives I can face tomorrow:

Because He lives all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living just because He lives.

 

Hope in the Storm

Hope in the Storm

My family and I have been glued to the television and our smart phones watching as hurricane Harvey bore down on Houston and the surrounding area.  Historic amounts of rain came pouring down; howling winds ripped roofs off of houses, while hundreds of people and animals were displaced as the flood waters rose.  Then in the aftermath comes the survey, inspection and calculation of collateral damage.  It is heartbreaking to see all the destruction and loss. I cannot wrap my mind around the enormity of it all.

floodedcarsOne woman among the thousands tearfully said, “I’m grateful my whole family is alive and safe. But we’ve lost our home, we have nowhere to go.”

Often the trials and troubles that come our way are compared to a storm. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a “storm” of life?   Sometimes you can hear or see warnings that trouble is near and take some precautions.  Other times, a storm hits you  without any real warning and you find yourself unprepared and trying to keep your head afloat. When that happens, where do you go? What do you hold on to?

People sometimes question God’s goodness when tragedy strikes. The Bible never said that life would be easy and carefree. The fact is we live in a broken world and He does allow bad circumstances to happen. But God’s word tells us that He is always good and will never leave us alone in our storms. He also promises that they can be used for good.

I have learned through the various “storms” of my life that God is in control.  Having HOPE, means all is not lost….life will go on and it will be okay – maybe different and not heb619necessarily easy but Okay.  When an anchor is working it cannot be seen. God is always at work and my trust in Him keeps me from crashing or drifting away. Christ goes before the Father on my behalf,  and gives me peace, strength and direction to deal with whatever lies before me.

After all of Jobs’ suffering and loss plus the accusations from his friends, God finally answers. Job says that he has heard and seen God.  Dr Charles Ryrie states, “God reveals Himself in those storms. Unmerited tragedy helps us see God, which is unmerited grace.” Being able to evaluate things through the eyes of faith to see what is truly important builds character.

Have you recently been through some rough seas? Take a look back and ask yourself these questions. 1) Where did I see God’s hand at work?  2) How and what did God provide through this circumstance?  3) What have I learned about God or myself ?          4) What can I change or do better?

If you are going through some difficult circumstances right now, reach out and hold tight in faith to the One Who will never let go. There are so many wonderful songs about God’s love and faithfulness. To encourage you,I want to share the words from the last verse and chorus of:

 “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” by the Ball Brothers

                                    He has a reason for each trial                                      

That we pass through in life

And though we’re shaken

We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down

On those who hold to faith

A heart of trust will always

Be a quiet peaceful place.

 

Sometimes He calms the storm

With a whispered peace be still

He can settle any sea

But it doesn’t mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close

And lets the wind and waves go wild

Sometimes He calms the storm

And other times He calms His child.