Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Failure Is Not Fatal

Posted by Chardon in Mark 14

Failure Isn’t Fatal
Mark 14:27-31, 66-72

Steven Spielberg, His cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Thomas Edison
In what might be at once the most discouraging statement and worst teaching practice of all time, Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’.
Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph and practical electric lamp. Death most likely spared his teachers the ignominy of their incorrect assessment.
Albert Einstein
His name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped.
He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years...
Theodor Seuss Geisel
Known to generations as Dr Seuss, the much-loved children’s author had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.
His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell more than 600 million copies worldwide.

Simon Peter was a leader among the twelve disciples. He was one of the first disciples Jesus called, and after Jesus ascended back into heaven, he was one of the leaders of the early church. However, I want you to imagine that night when Peter was sitting around the fire at the house of Caiaphas. He was brave enough to follow the mob that arrested Jesus, but he was too afraid to identify himself as a companion of Jesus. While the illegal Jewish trial of Jesus was being conducted Peter was asked three times if he knew Jesus. And three times, he denied Jesus. When we look at Peter’s life, we can see there were at least three steps on the downward path of failure. Simon says there are three steps that lead to failure. We need to know these steps, because they are the same steps to denial followers of Jesus take today.
A. His first downward step was disagreement with God’s Word
When Jesus took the disciples on a retreat to Caesarea Philippi, He asked them what people were saying. They said, “Some say you are John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Elijah, or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus said, “But who do YOU say that I am?” There was probably silence for a moment or two when Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus complimented Peter on his good understanding. Then Jesus began to tell them He would be going to Jerusalem where He would be put to death. That was God’s perfect revelation.
But Peter disagreed with God’s word. The Bible says, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.’” (Matthew 16:22-23)
Peter heard God’s plan straight from the mouth of Jesus, but he thought he knew better. He said, “None of this business about dying!”
In the same way, you are headed for failure when you start disagreeing with this book. When a person no longer consults this book for personal morality, then that person is heading for a fall. So I challenge you personally to read and obey God’s Word.
There was a time when our national morality was based upon the morality of the Bible, but we have long since forsaken God’s Word as a source of right and wrong—and that’s one reason we are in the mess we’re in.
B. Peter’s second step toward failure was overconfidence
When Jesus predicted that all the disciples would leave him, Peter bragged that he would stick with Jesus. He said, “All these other turkeys may fly away, but I’ll stand by you whatever happens!”
But Jesus said, “Peter, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter said, “Never! Not me, Lord!”
The Bible has a strong warning against overconfidence. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) I’m not a Catholic priest, so I don’t hear confession. But through the years, I’ve had hundreds of people come and confess sins to me. Of course, I will carry all these confessions in confidence to the grave. As you can imagine, I’ve heard plenty of sins over the past forty years. But I’ve never had a single person come to me and confess the sin of pride. Pride is a condition that blinds the person who has it.
Pride is an attitude that causes you to think you are incapable of sin. But we need to understand that any of us are capable of denying the Lord at any time.
C. The third step on the pathway to failure was peer pressure from the wrong crowd
Peter sat and warmed himself at the fire with those who were hostile toward Jesus and anyone associated with Jesus. It’s hard to stand up and confess Jesus when you are with people who don’t share your beliefs. We read in Mark 14:54that Peter followed Jesus at a distance to the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house. That’s an indication that we find ourselves in trouble when we don’t follow the Lord closely. Some of you may have at one time followed the Lord closely, but you have hung back and now you follow the Lord at a distance. And before long you find yourself hanging out with the wrong crowd. Soon you find yourself doing the wrong thing.
Falling away from the Lord doesn’t happen overnight. It happens gradually over a period of time. I’ve always loved the words on the first psalm that talk about the characteristics of a righteous person. It starts by revealing what a righteous person doesn’t do. Notice the progression. “Blessed is the one who does not WALK in step with the wicked or STAND in the way that sinners take or SIT in the company of mockers...” (Psalm 1:1) Peter found himself walking with the wrong crowd. Then he stood with them, and then he sat down by the fire with them. If you find yourself walking with the wrong crowd, turn around. Don’t stand, and then for sure, don’t sit down with them.
Peter took those three steps: disagreement with God’s word, overconfidence and he submitted to peer pressure until he denied the Lord.
A little servant girl said, “I’ve seen you with Jesus; you’re one of His disciples!” Peter said, “I am NOT!” A second person said, “Yes you are, you are one of the disciples of Jesus.” The second time, Peter said, “You are wrong, I don’t know Jesus.” Then one of them recognized his accent. Galileans were the rednecks, the hillbillies of the Jews. One man said, “I can tell by the way you talk, you’re from Galilee. You are with Jesus.”
At that moment Peter lost it. It was still a long time before dawn, but God reached down and plucked the tail feathers of a nearby rooster and it let out a cock-a-doodle do to end all cock-a-doodle do’s! Then it crowed again, just to make sure Peter had heard it.
Then Peter remembered the words of the Lord. The very thing Peter said would never happen had happened.
Peter had denied his Lord. He was at rock bottom. Maybe that’s where you’ve been before. Maybe it’s where you are now. Or you may find yourself there soon. Never say never. Rock bottom is a bad place to be, but it’s a good place to meet the Lord, because there’s only one direction you can go from there.
If you are a human creature, you’re going to fail and make mistakes.
When we have sinned, we must recognize it and repent. God’s forgiveness doesn’t save us from the consequences of our conduct, but if we’ve abandoned the behavior and are willing to accept the consequences, God will still use us.
The thing that reveals the strength of your character is what you do AFTER you fall. If you stay down, then you wallow in your failure. But if you get up and keep trying to follow God, He can still use you. We looked at the steps that lead to failure. Now let’s consider how to move toward restoration. Simon says there are three steps on the pathway to restoration.
A. The first step is to admit your failure
As soon as the rooster crowed, Peter realized he had failed the Lord. The Danish artist, Carl Bloch, captured a scene from the night when Peter denied Jesus. Luke tells us as Jesus was being led out of the courtroom, he looked across the courtyard and stared into the eyes of Peter. If you could see Jesus would see His face was already beaten, his eyes swollen, and blood caked in his beard. That look must have made Peter’s blood freeze. But I don’t think it was a look of anger or disappointment. I think it was a look of love. It was as if Jesus was saying, “I told you what would happen, now what are you going to do?” In this moment you see the rooster crowing as Peter turns his head away from the gaze of Jesus.
When it comes to failure and sin in your life, you have two options. You can try to hide it, or you can admit it. The Bible says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Someone said, “To err is human; and to cover it up is too.” Once we have made a mistake one of the hardest things to do is to come clean and admit it. Is there an area of your life where you have failed the Lord, and you are in denial? When I was a youth pastor I used to tell students to remember these three phrases do deal with sin. Admit it. Quit it, then Forget it. Admit it: confess it to God. Quit it: stop sinning; then forget it: accept God’s cleansing. Admit it. Quit it, Forget it—it still works.
B. The second step is to repent of your sin
The Bible says Peter went out and wept bitterly. The word “repent” means to have a change of heart that leads to a change of behavior. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, it is often a painful experience. That’s why Peter wept. He was ashamed of his behavior. When was the last time you wept over your sins?
Sorrow and repentance often go together. The Bible says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
C. The third step is to return to serve with God’s people
Do you know the difference between Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter? Judas was sorry for what he did. He had regret, but there was no repentance. He went out and hung himself. After Peter went out and wept, he repented and then he joined the disciples.
Jesus not only predicted Peter would deny Him, but He also predicted Peter would get back on track and would be the one to strengthen the other disciples. Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Peter failed the Lord when he denied Jesus, but his faith didn’t fail. Jesus wasn’t finished with Peter.
In John 21 Peter and the disciples were out on the lake in Galilee fishing. They had fished all night and caught nothing. They saw a man standing on the shore who called out, “Caught any fish?” They grumbled, “Nope.” The man said, “Throw your net on the other side of the boat.” That should have rung a bell. Sure enough they toss the net and it is so full of fish that they have to drag it to shore. John said, “It’s the Lord!” Peter, who had denied Jesus a few nights earlier couldn’t wait for the boat to get to shore. When the disciples arrived, Jesus already had a fire going with fish cooking. So once again, Peter is looking at Jesus across a fire. Jesus asks Peter a question three times.
Peter do you love me more than these?
John 21:15-17
15 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.”
16 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.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you [g]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.

And four weeks later, we see Peter filled with the Holy Spirit standing up and preaching the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost. He was a failure, but it wasn’t fatal. He went on to become one of the leaders of the early church.
John Maxwell wrote, “Failing doesn’t mean I’m a failure; it just means I have not yet succeeded. It doesn’t mean I’ve accomplished nothing; it just means I’ve learned something. It doesn’t mean I’ll never make it; it just means I have a reason to start over again. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned me; it just means He has a better idea!”
The Bible is full of stories of people who loved God and failed Him on a grand scale, but they returned to God and God used them in a mighty way. Remember, failure isn’t fatal!

Contributor : David Dykes


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