Faithlife Sermons

Dealing with Disappointment

Storm Proof Your Life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What's your biggest regret in life? If it's anything like these random New Yorkers, it has one very important word in it. Students from Strayer University set up a chalkboard on the sidewalk near Lieutenant Petrosino Square in New York City for one day. At the top of the board was written, "Write your biggest regret." They provided a supply of colored chalk and set up a video camera to record people writing on the board.
The chalkboard attracted many people walking by and was soon filled to overflowing with written regrets that were poignant and thought-provoking.
Burning bridgesNever speaking upNot being a good husbandShould have spent more time with familyStaying in my comfort zoneNot saying "I love you"Never applying to med schoolNot making the most of every dayNot being a better friend
As the board filled up with so many different stories, they noticed that almost all of these regrets had one thing in common. Nearly all of them involved the word "not." They were about chances not taken. They were about words not spoken. They were about dreams never pursued.
Alexander the Great conquered Persia, but broke down and wept because his troops were too exhausted to push on to India. Hugo Grotius, the father of modern international law, said at the last, "I have accomplished nothing worthwhile in my life." John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the U.S.--not a Lincoln, perhaps, but a decent leader--wrote in his diary: "My life has been spent in vain and idle aspirations, and in ceaseless rejected prayers that something would be the result of my existence beneficial to my species." Robert Louis Stevenson wrote words that continue to delight and enrich our lives, and yet what did he write for his epitaph? "Here lies one who meant well, who tried a little, and failed much." Cecil Rhodes opened up Africa and established an empire, but what were his dying words? "So little done, so much to do." 
These men did so much in their lives only to reach the end with regret and disappointment.
People you meet every day carry a weight of regrets normally hidden below the surface of their lives. We ourselves have disappointments and regrets that we deal with every day. So how does Paul deal with his regrets with his own failures. What are some steps we can find in our passage that will give us strength to live out the freedom we have in Christ, and encourage others to find freedom in Christ?

Confess (v. 12)

Paul was quick to confess that he was not perfect. Often when we read scripture, we have the problem of looking back at these men who wrote the Bible and thinking they were perfect. But they weren’t. Noah was a drunk. Moses a stutterer and afraid of public speaking. David was a murderer and an adulterer, Elijah a whiner. Samson was a womanizer, Solomon, and David too. Jeremiah had trouble with depression.
Peter was a blowhard who denied Jesus at his moment of greatest need. John and James were known as the “sons of Thunder” because they were quick tempered and had stormy personalities, asking Jesus if they should call down fire and brimstone from heaven on one town. Philip was cynical, Thomas a doubter, and Matthew a thief who hung around prostitutes and other reprobates. Simeon was a Zealot, and Judas a betrayer.
These men were not perfect. They were not special. They were just like you and I. And Paul understood that better than anyone. Paul himself was a persecutor of the church, hunting them down with all the zeal of an SS officer hunting Jews during the second world war, and a murderer. And so when he calls us to live the Christian life, he understands what it means to live with regrets. For the rest of his life he would be haunted by the stoning of Stephen. Not a day went by where the weight of his sin and the face of that blessed saint passing from this life to his eternal home in heaven did not affect his life and mission.
All of the disciples lived with deep regrets. All of them had things that didn’t go the way they planned, and yet the difference between living with regret and being buried by them begins at the cross.
The first step in dealing with regret is to admit our sin.
We live in a society that is rife with blaming others. Millennials blame Baby Boomers for no jobs and their crushing college debt, Baby Boomer blame millennials for being too soft and being “whiners”. Republicans blame Democrats for high taxes and inept social programs, Democrats blame Republicans for poor housing choices for low income families, and a lack of opportunity for those same families.
It’s always someone elses fault, no matter what the problem.
But the gospel teaches a different way:
Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Psalm 32:5 ESV
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
James 5:16 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
The Bible calls us to confess our sins. Hiding our sins leads to depression and soul degradation, but confession leads to forgiveness and life.
2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Biblical Victory over regret Begins with Confession. Confession always proceeds forgiveness.

Forget (v. 13a)

The next thing that Paul says is this, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead...”
Paul understood that after we confess our sins we must embrace God’s grace. This isn’t as easy as we think it is. Often people call out to God for forgiveness, but they live their lives as if they were never forgiven. The bible clearly says that God forgives. He forgives our sins if we ask him to , but the problem is when we hold on to feelings of guilt, feelings of rejection, feelings of worthlessness before God. So often people are set free from the bondage of sin, only to self impose bondage to regret and guilt.
Forgiveness without embracing the grace given us is worthless to our lives. It’s like giving sight to a blind man and that man locking himself in a windowless room. He has sight, but it’s worthless to him.
What must happen is our hearts must be transformed by grace. Without grace, without embracing the grace of God in our lives then we are unable to go past where we are, stuck in our sin.
“Without a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, we just continue to manage external and internal darkness.” - Matt Chandler
We must allow Grace to have the final word in our lives if we are not going to find ourselves stuck, defined by our failure. If God forgives us, we must allow that forgiveness to defines us.
Grace has the Final Word.
Not our feelings, not our circumstances, God’s grace does. If God forgives us, then our refusal to forget the past is an act of rebellion. We’re saying, “I have the final word, not you God, not your grace.
You must embrace God’s grace! You must embrace that fact that God has forgiven you by his grace apart from your worth, your goodness, you niceness, your holiness, your beauty. God loved you inspite of yourself and he saved you and that is the Final Word.

Move (v. 13b-14)

But it doesn’t stop there. You see, God intends for something to happen. He intends for us to become more Christ like day by day; to “know him and the power of his resurrection, and…share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (v. 10-11) That’s the goal, and while we will never attain this on this side of glory, we are called by Paul to strain forward, pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
God has a purpose of holiness and faithfulness for your life, and he intends on you to live it. We are called to
Philippians 2:12-13
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Working out our salvation means that we work daily to be more like Christ. Our salvation is secure. It’s ours, but we are called to work it out.
Aiden loves egos, and this year for Christmas we bought him several lego sets. One was a little robot with wheels that moved, etc. When we got it, we opened the box and found not a robot, but pieces to it. The robot was complete, but it was our job to work it out, to put it together. The same is true of our salvation.
We are given our complete salvation by God. It’s ours because Jesus bought us at a price (). But we are called to work out that salvation. Satan will try to keep us from living out the grace God has given us. Our regrets will say “God can’t use you.”
But God has called us to work out his kingdom priniciples in the world. How do we do this, despite our baggage? By remembering
God is Greater than your Biggest Mistake

Imitate

Finally, Paul ends his call to press on past regrets by calling us to imitate him. What a blessing it is to know that God has put people in your life and my life as an example of godly living.
Pastors, teachers, religious leaders, authors, family members..anyone chasing hard after Christ is an example that God has given us to follow.
Paul earlier called the church to imitate Christ.
Philippians 2:5–11 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Now he calls the Philippians to imitate him. Is this hubris, or arrogance, no, but what Paul is saying is “As I imitate Christ, so also imitate me.”
Oh, that my life was worth imitating. Oh that your life was worth imitation by other believers. Well, parents, let me tell you something, your life is being imitated, and so live a life worth imitating!
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