Faithlife Sermons

God's Mercy & My Failures

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Because We are Imperfect People & We Live in an Imperfect World, We Will Experience Failures in Life.

The night Jesus went to the cross, two of his closest friends experienced massive failures. Judas, the Failure of Betrayal and Peter the failure of denial.
Both actually denied Jesus. Judas rejected God’s Mercy and went and hung himself. Peter accepted God’s Mercy and went on to the leader of the church.
We will learn about our failures and God’s Mercy by looking at Peter’s failure. We will answer 3 Questions. First,

What Causes Personal Failure in Your Life?

Peter did three things that we all do that cause failure in our lives. We will look at 3 things Peter did wrong and 3 things Peter did right. Then we will see how Jesus responds.

Three Things We Do Wrong

1. WE OVERESTIMATE OUR STRENGTH

When you think that you are stronger than you really are, you think that you can handle more than you can handle and you thing you can resist temptation - that’s when you fall.
Peter’s failure begins in Matt 26.
Matthew 26:31–35 NLT
On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Peter said he would not… but he did. He denied even knowing Jesus.
A lot of businesses fail because they overestimate their strength. A lot of battles have been lost because they over estimated their strength. You think, I can handle it… its just a little office flirt...

NOTE: Never Say, I’d Never Do That

1 Corinthians 10:12 The Living Bible
So be careful. If you are thinking, “Oh, I would never behave like that”—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.
One of the reason we have so many failures is that we overestimate our strengths. Non of us are exempt from failing. The minute you think if could never happen to you is when you are open to failure. Given the right situation, all of us are capable of any sin.
We also misuse our strengths. We tend to guard our weaknesses, but often leave our strengths exposed and we don’t pay attention to temptations in those areas. When we don’t pay attention, strengths become weaknesses.

An Unguarded Strength is a Double Weakness

The very thing you believe you are strong in… the are you believe you would never mess up in, is the area you are setting yourself up for failure. Sometimes this can occur after a victory has been won. You relax and them it hits you. Peter had his biggest failure right after the Last Supper. Jesus was tempted right after his baptism and God the Father Spoke from heaven…

Don’t Think that could never happen to me

2. WE FEAR THE DISAPPROVAL OF OTHERS

This is big. It causes more problems in our lives than you can imagine. You fear disapproval… you worry about what other people think. When you fear disapproval, you will go along with things you know you should not.

Every time you make a decision based on what other people will think, you are sowing the seeds for failure in your life

This is one of the reasons that Peter failed.
Matthew 26:58 NLT
Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.
Matthew 26:69–70 NLT
Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Peter struggled with People Pleasing even after spending 3.5 years with Jesus. He worries about what a young girl thinks and he denies even knowing Jesus. How many times have you had the opportunity to admit you were a Christian at work or somewhere else and you said nothing because you were worried about what other people would think? It happens all the time in many areas of our lives.
Peter followed him at a distance… that’s a problem.
Let me ask

Are You Following Jesus at a Distance?

You want to follow Jesus but you want to keep living the way you want to live...
The Bible says Peter was just sitting around waiting for something to happen.

Do you Ever Find Yourself Sitting Around… waiting to see what happens?

That’s a set up for failure.
Then Peter was worried about what people thought.

Whose Opinion Matters More to You than God’s?

You worry about what they think about what you say and do.

Have you Ever Asked Yourself… Why is the opinion of others so important to you?

… Why you would do something you know is wrong to please someone.

Socrates: The Unexamined Life Isn’t worth Living.

Reality is the Unexamined Life is a recipe for trouble.

The Parts of Your Life You are Afraid to Look at are the Parts of Your Life that Cause you the most Trouble

What is it that makes you afraid of someone’s disapproval? Why will you do anything to prevent that disapproval?
Here’s why...

There is always a Wound Behind the Fear of Disapproval

There is something that triggers that fear of disapproval from others in your mind… rejection… unmet need growing up… some hurt or trauma… a pain or injury. The pain is so deep that it’s often hidden in you and you don’t even know why you are in pain.

This kind of Pain is always Related to Your Identity.

If you don’t know WHO you are as a man or woman in Christ, you will be maipulated by the disapproval f other people the rest of your life. And you too will find yourself backing down when someone asks you of you are a Christian. You won’t stand up for what you believe because you worry about what others think.
Proverbs 29:25 TEV
It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.
Peter over estimated his strength and fear the disapproval of others.
You may think:
I can handle this...
I can drink just one...
That won’t happen to me...
I can watch this kind of stuff and it won’t affect me...
I can go into this place and it won’t impact me…
Who are you kidding… When you over estimate your strengths and you fear disapproval, you will experience failure.

3. WE SPEAK WITHOUT THINKING

Common. Our mouths move without our brains filtering what comes out. I used to tell a friend that just because a thought popped into his brain, it did not need to come out of his mouth. We don’t pause to consider the damage our words might do to someone… We just speak impulsively.

The reason we speak without thinking is we speak based on emotion.

When you talk, you may not even be thinking about what you are talking about. You are not thinking and talking rationally. You don’t ask, “Lord should I say this?”
People say, “I just say what I feel” like its a sign of courage. It’s not. It’s a sign of immaturity. Little Children say what they feel. Adults need to learn to control their mouths.
This is what happened to Peter. Jesus has just been arrested… he is fearful and stressed. He is in the crowd that’s come to see Jesus tortured when people start asking him who he is.
Matthew 26:71–74 NLT
Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
He cursed without even thinking about it.

Cursing is a Sign of Frustration

It’s a sign of fear because when you are afraid you are emotional and not thinking logical. When people curse it’s because they have given up on their logic and ability to communicate in an appropriate manner.
amplify it as you read it.
James 3:5–6 NLT
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Peter overestimated His Strength; He feared the Disapproval of Others; and He spoke without thinking.

So we overestimate our strengths, we fear the disapproval of others and we speak without thinking. Peter did all three and he had the biggest failure of his life. And we do all three and we have failure in our life.
These are things Peter did Wrong, but

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I FAIL?

Once Peter failed, he actually did some things right that helped him to become the Peter we all know about. These are steps to recovery from failure… marriage, financial, any kind of failure...
Write down

1. Peter Grieved His Failure

Grieve! Don’t minimize it and pretend it didn’t happen. Don’t make excuses.

Feel the Pain… Don’t Rush to Feel Better.

Here is a principle...

To Get Past Your Failure, You Must Go Through It.

You can’t avoid it by not talking about it...
We don’t like pain so we try to ignore it and stuff it down. If you try to stuff it down, you will explode at some point. This is why 6 months after a divorce or a job layoff or something like that - you will often experience some sort of physical illness. You can’t hold it in… it will show up in your health.
You can’t go around it, you have to face it and go through it. Feel the pain. Grieve the failure.
That’s what Peter did.
Matthew 26:75 NLT
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.
Can you imagine how Peter felt? He had been with Jesus 3 years watching him raise the dead, walk on water, heal the sick & feed thousands and now he failed him by denying him. He wept bitterly.
I like the fact that Peter owned up to his failure. He doesn’t try to justify it or make an excuse for it, he owned it and he grieved it.

Grief is Essential to Healing

Grief is the way we get through transitions and losses and failures in life. The greater the failure the long healing will take. The greater the loss, the more time it will take to heal. You can’t force it nor rush it, you have to let God do his work through it.
Recovery is an act of God’s Mercy. Healing is an act of God’s Mercy and it takes time.
After he committed adultery, David’s prayer is seen in Psalm 51 where he repents. In vs. 17, he says,
Psalm 51:17 TEV
My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God; you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.
God is looking for humility… the willingness to tell God you blew it. He is looking for repentance.
You say God, I’m broken over this. This was my dream. I had my hopes pinned on this and now it’s gone. I’ve failed and i am broken hearted and I want you to take control.
That’s the person who will recover.
So Peter Grieved. He felt the pain of denying Jesus. I imagine that every time a rooster crowed, he relived that night.
There are certain things that you hear or see or smell that triggers a memory of your failures. You can’t stop the triggers. But you CAN stop what they do to you. That’s where your choice comes in because things are going to happen in life and it often will remind you about failures. Your choice is to focus on the mistake… or to focus on God’s forgiveness, God’s Grace, God’s Mercy. That’s the choice.
Here is what will happen when you make that choice. Satan, who knows your triggers, will and he will begin to minimize a sin. He will convince you that it’s no big deal… times have changed… things are different now… and on and on. He tries to minimize sin.
Then the minute you fail and commit that sin, Satan maximizes the sin. Who do you think you are? That’s the worst think I have ever seen anyone do. You are so far gone you can’t be forgiven this time. You will never be blesses. You will never beat this. God will never answer YOUR prayers… God can never use you because you are BAD.
That’s his strategy… Minimize then maximize.
When you don’t know who you are and you still have that deep pain that you have not dealt with, you give in to these kinds of fears all the time. Satan and your “friends” will just keep using emotional triggers to manipulate you over and over again.
You need to REFRAME that trigger. When the trigger hits you, make it remind you of God’s Mercy and Grace and then you will begin to praise the Lord and Satan doesn’t want that so he will leave that trigger alone… it doesn’t work anymore.
When you understand the deeper pain that causes you to give in, to overestimate your strength, to speak when you shouldn’t, and to live for the approval of other people.
When you know how you are and whose you are, you know God's mercy and God's grace is going to be there. I’m a child of God so even though I just really messed up God's going to still love me. He’s not going to change. That’s grace & mercy.

2. Peter Had a Small Group of Close Friends that Supported Him

When Jesus began his ministry, he began a small group. He chose 12 people to be part of that group. This is why we have CONNECT GROUPS. Jesus did it and for hundreds of years that was how Christians met… in small groups.
Here is an example of how Peter got support from his small group of people… Mary had gone to the grave and the angel told her that Jesus was gone.
Mark 16:10 NLT
She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened.
She found them together morning Jesus death. When you are in a crisis of failure,

You Must Resist the Urge to Isolate Yourself

When you get laid off, you don’t want people to know. When you don’t have enough money, you don’t want people to know. When you fall to addiction, you don’t want people to know. You have a failure and you don’t want anyone to know. You keep it secret.
That’s the worst thing you can do. You don’t need to tell the world, but you need a few people who you trust and who love you that you can tell. That’s what Peter did.
Here is another example
John 20:19–20 NLT
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!
Jesus may not show up physically, but he shows up in small groups. His love, mercy and forgiveness show up.
You need a small group of people. When you have a failure or crisis, you can’t think straight and you need people God can use to help you think straight. The bigger the failure or the bigger the loss, the more you don’t think straight and the more you need a small group of people around you.
Here is a 3rd example.
John 20:26 NLT
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.
They were together again. They were meeting in small groups on a regular basis. They were hanging out trying to process what the world was doing at that time.
You will have losses of jobs, relationships, marriages, children, friendships, and other failures. You need a group of people that can support you through those times.

3. Peter Cast Himself On God’s Mercy

Cast yourself on God’s Mercy. This is what peter did. Look at what he wrote.
1 Peter 1:3 TEV
Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope,
In verse one, Peter says hello and then in verse 3 he begins talking about Gods mercy. Peter had experienced massive failure in his life, but he is not going around crying about it, He is using it to tell others about God’s Mercy.
Peter also wrote
1 Peter 5:7 NIV84
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
He wrote that from experience. He had failed, but he cast himself on the Mercy of God.
What does it mean to Cast Yourself on God. The Word Cast means to drop or let go of a heavy burden. Stop carrying that burden of guilt, shame, failure - drop it on Him because he cares for you.

To Cast YourSelf On God’s Mercy is Asking God for a Fresh Start

That’s why it’s the antidote to everything that Satan says to you. So much of the time Satan is whispering in your ear “You’re not good enough. Who do you think you are? You think God could ever use you? Why do you think God would answer your prayers after all the stuff you’ve done? All those dumb stunts you’ve done. You’re not good enough.” As I said he’s always maximizing things; no way will God forgive you. He does not want you focused on his mercy.
But the antidote to get rid of all that in your mind… Satan’s constantly giving you all those negative thoughts. It’s just there.
What is the antidote to that? When you cast your care you lose your despair. When you cast your care you lose your despair. Because then Jesus moves into action. The moment you say God I’m throwing myself on your mercy ....

What Does Jesus Do with Our Failures?

Luke 22:31–32 NIV84
“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.”
Jesus told Peter what was going to happen and that he had prayed for him and it would be ok. When you repent you can use your pain to help the others.
We learn 5 things Jesus does with our failures.

1. JESUS IS NOT SHOCKED AT OUR FAILURES

Jesus wasn’t shocked by Peter’s failure and he is not shocked by our failures. He predicted Peter’s failure.
Matthew 26:31–32 The Message
Then Jesus told them, “Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says, I’ll strike the shepherd; helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.”
God is never caught off guard by anything. I remember Y2K… Whatever you are going through right now has not caught God off guard. He knows the future. He knows our future.
Psalm 103:14 NIV84
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
IOW, god knows we are not perfect… that we are human. He also knows every temptation that you are going to go through… he is not surprised.

2. JESUS PRAYS FOR US

He not only told Peter what was happening, but told him that he had prayed for him. WOW. Jesus prayed for Peter… He also prays for us. His prayers are always answered the way he prays them.
Hebrews 7:25 NLT
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Jesus is in heaven praying for you. It’s called intercession.

3. JESUS BELIEVES IN US

Luke 22:32 NLT
But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Notice he did not say if you turn back. He said when. He knew Peter would repent and turn back. You will fail… you will sin, but when you turn back, its the mark of a Believer.
Look at this verse...
Proverbs 24:16 NLT
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.
This verse - good guys mess up. They don’t just mess up once but over and over again, but they will get up again. Jesus mercy is for mess up after mess up… not just for one big one.
God is willing to show more mercy that you’re willing to ask for.

Jesus Believed in Peter and He Believes In You

Mark 16:6–7 NLT
but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
The angel said to include Peter. Why? Because Jesus knew how discouraged Peter hfelt because of His failure.
When you fail, god knows your name and he gives you personal encouragement that’s different from what he might give someone else.

4. JESUS SHOWS US MERCY WHEN WE ARE DOWN

He doesn’t just keep piling it on when we are down - Satan does that. He doesn’t shame us and beat us up - He SAVES us. He shows mercy to us.
Here is an example of this. It’s a couple of weeks after his resurrection.
Amplify as You read
John 21:1–14 NLT
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
You may have “fished” all night but God can do more in 5 minutes in your life than in all 50 years of planning. They had fished all night and caught nothing.
You may have been planning this dream of yours… big wedding… waiting for your ship to come in on a business...
You have been planning this for years and it’s gone nowhere!
When they did what Jesus told them, they caught more than they ever imagined. God can do more in your life in a few seconds than you can do in a life time if you will just obey him.
God’s Mercy is not dependent on your performance. The Bible says...
Lamentations 3:22–23 NLT
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
He never stops showing you and I mercy.
2 Timothy 2:13 NLT
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
Even when we are not faithful, he is. Wow.

5. JESUS USES OUR FAILURES TO BUILD HIS CHURCH

He uses our failures to build His Church.
Luke 22:32 NLT
But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
He told Peter that when he turned back, he would build up other believers - the Church.
Here is the rest of the story on the beach.
Amplify
John 21:15–17 NLT
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
They way you show love to God is by helping other people in the family of God.
Do you know why Jesus asked him if he loved him 3 times? He denied him 3 times after stating three times that he would not. He restored Peter.
Judas and Peter both failed - big time. Judas became a traitor and Peter became a teacher and leader. What will you become out of your failure?

God Builds His Church with People Who Failed

Matthew 16:18 NLT
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
This is a play on words. Jesus says, Peter or Petros which means little rock or pebble… IOW, you are little and weak and you messed up, but upon this Rock or Petra (bedrock) I will build my church.
You might be weak now, but you will become strong. I am going to build my church on your failures.
Question -
What failure have you had that God wants to use to Build His Church?
business failure - marriage - abortion - in recovery - abused - raped
God doesn’t waste your pain. God wants to turn your greatest failures into your greatest success. He wants to take your greatest hurt and turn it into your greatest ministry.
Are you going to respond to your failure like Judas or like Peter?
Judas broke down. Peter broke through.
That starts right here right now.
Altar time.
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