What Hope Is There For Failures?
What hope is there for failures? Good morning Hope city! My name is Luke and I'm one of the team here. It's a real privilege to be here with you this morning. [SLIDE] What hope is there for failures? I wonder if you can think of a situation when you have failed at something? Introductory Illustration Very often, sons end up being interested in the same sorts of things as their dads. When I was growing up my dad was really into cars and motorbikes. He was always in his garage fixing cars and motorbikes. As a result, I grew up loving cars and motorbikes. [SLIDE] As a teenager i just could not wait until i was 17 so that i could sit my driving test and get on the road! Turning 17 was like winning the lottery. By the time I reached my 17th birthday I already had a driving instructor lined up and had my provisional licence. I had completed all of the mock theory tests at least two or three times. Read the highway code every night. I was ready. I was so ready. 20 days after my 17th birthday I passed my driving test, i could hardly get my massive head out of the car after i passed! So there i was, blasting around in my mums [SLIDE] bright yellow Fiat Cinquecento getting into all sorts of trouble. But i was only half way to achieving my real goal, which was to get my motorbike licence. So I sat my CBT which is a day of training that allows you to ride a really small motorbike with L plates, and bought my first bike. [SLIDE] A Cagiva Mito 125 sports bike! I rode around on that for a while before getting lessons to sit my "big bike test". It wasn't long before the day came to sit my big bike test. I was so ready for it. I had been practicing for weeks. I had a lesson immediately before the test and I knew I was going to pass. I had breezed through all my driving related challenges until now. How could i not pass? Well, i went out with the examiner and i rode beautifully. Did everything by the book. Observed the speed limits, reacted appropriately to road conditions, started, stopped and cornered in full control of the bike! At the end of the test I got off my bike and the very dour examiner said "i'm sorry to tell you Mr Wilson that you've failed" [SLIDE]. I could not believe my ears! WHAT??!? How can I have failed? I did everything right, did all my signals, observed every rule, didn't speed. It was perfect. What did I do to fail? "I'm sorry Mr Wilson you failed because you were going too slowly"! I was completely and utterly devastated! In just a minute we're going to hear a story about a much more significant failure and how Jesus deals with it. Set the Scene/Transition I would encourage you to follow along in a bible. If you are looking at one of the blue bibles you'll find the passage on page ****. You are looking for the big number 22, which is the chapter number and starting at little number 31 which is the verse number. Keep your finger in the page because i'll give you bit of context before Rachael comes to read to us. We've been tracking the life story of Jesus through this book written by a doctor called Luke. Recently in this account, Jesus and his followers have gathered to share the last meal that they will have together before Jesus dies. It's been an eventful gathering. Jesus establishes 'communion' - a way to remember the significance of what Jesus is about to do, which is something as Christians we still do together to remember the amazing events that follow this meal. But then Jesus drops a bombshell - that he's going to be betrayed by one of the disciples, one of his closest followers! And worse still he knows who it is and that they are at that very table. The disciples start talking about who this might be but then incredibly, it turns into a selfish argument about which of them is the greatest!. And all through the meal Jesus is trying to teach the disciples things that they really need to learn but they all too often seem to miss the point of what Jesus is saying. So we arrive at the final scene of this extraordinary dinner. Jesus and his disciples have eaten and drank and talked and now, Jesus turns his attention to Simon Peter. Thanks Racheal. Reading Luke 22 : 31-38. [SLIDE] We're going to have a look at the three main characters in this section and see what we can learn from them. Activity of Satan (our enemy) [SLIDE] Let's start by taking a look at Satan in this text. Matt did a pretty thorough job a few weeks ago of explaining from an earlier section in Luke what we believe about evil and Satan. In summary though, we believe that Satan is real, he's active and he opposes God and those that follow him. Back in another book in the bible called Job we can see a similar situation where Satan appears before God and it shows us that Satan is limited because he has to ask God's permission to test Job. Here's what happens in Job chapter 1; Job 1:6-12 6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it."...........12 The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. [BLANK] It would be understandable to imagine that because we're reading these accounts of Satan in the bible, which is quite an old book, that maybe Satan isn't real, or at least doesn't operate in our world today. Perhaps you think it's all just nonsense. I know a Church of Scotland Minister called Kenny Borthwick who worked for years at a church up in Wester Hailes. He is retired now and often posts thoughts and insights on Facebook. This week, he posted this real life example of some experiences that he had. Kenny and his wife were on holiday abroad and there a lady approached them, tied a thread around Kenny's wrist and said "welcome to Gran Canaria Kenny, how are you enjoying your move to Edinburgh?". They had just moved to Edinburgh from Thurso. Kenny was stunned but his wife Morag was more alert and she tore the thread off Kennys wrist and declared "We are Christians and we believe in Jesus, the Son of God!" The lady looked frightened and moved off pretty sharply. On another occasion Kenny went into a drinking den in Wester Hailes looking for someone he cared about and was trying to help in the Name of Christ. From a dark room of filth and squalor another man started to shout out "i know you, Kenny Borthwick from Glasgow" and spoke some facts about Kenny even though they had never met. Now perhaps you've never experienced anything quite like that. I don't think that i have. But we don't need to use much imagination to see that evil is around us and that the opposition of Satan is real. [SLIDE] We all feel the effects of living in a broken world. Physical ill health, depression and anxiety, broken relationships. More broadly we see the effects of sin on our world. Just watch the news. There are more than 40 wars going on in the world right now. Oppression, flooding, fires, coronavirus, opposition to free speech, famine, homelesness - the list goes on and on and on. In verse 31, Satan is on the prowl again. He wants to pick the disciples to pieces. [SLIDE] The picture here is the sifting of wheat, where the wheat is bashed around in a sieve to separate the wheat from the chaff. We've already seen division amongst the disciples as they argue over which of them is the greatest. Satan wants to put the disciples to the test in the hope that he can cause their faith to fail completely. [BLANK] Sometimes we'll see direct opposition like Kenny did, but i believe that there are much more subtle tools that Satan has up his sleeve that he uses against us. I think the main ones we experience are business, distraction and a preoccupation with our comfort. We can get so busy with work, friends, family, church and pastimes that we don't leave time for God. Our days can be so filled with busyness that at the end of the day we are too tired to read our bibles or pray. We can spend so much of our time running after our own comfort, making sure we make enough money to buy the bigger house the second car the big holiday, netflix, spotify, amazon tv, facebook, twitter, instagram, tablets and phones and gadgets all inviting us pour our time and money down the drain at the ultimate cost of losing sight of God and faith ebbs away. What about you? Can you see yourself in any of this? Do you see our own failings and failures before God? Where are you being worn down, sifted, picked apart or just distracted? Was God once at the centre of your affections but over time you've allowed your heart to drift? Kenny goes on to say this; Your story is of interest simply because Satan hates what God loves and seeks to kill, steal and destroy [SLIDE] for no other motivation than that of hatred. Weak points, wounds, cuts and bruises are known about and used against us. Like a heavyweight boxer Satan goes for weaknesses he observes with the dying fury of a mortally wounded lion who knows his time is short. He will hit them again and again at a moment he sees as opportune. We all have them. Do you know yours? Are you defending those areas of living, speaking, thinking, or have you dropped your guard? Make sure you put on the armour of God, put on the Messiah as your armour, or you will hit the canvas. The Promise of Jesus our friend and allie So, we have a formidable and terrible enemy. [SLIDE] But we have an even stronger and mightier friend and alie in Jesus. [BLANK] He is in control. V31 says "satan has asked...". Meaning that Satan needs permission from God to test Peter. We also know that Satan's power and knowledge and reach is not equal to God's. Satan, whilst dangerous, is actually operating within boundaries set by God. Another commentator puts it as Satan works in chains. He is not free just to do as he pleases. If you are a christian, Jesus is on your side. V32 Jesus says to Peter "I have prayed for you". It's important to notice that although Jesus is aware of Satans plan to test Peter, he doesn't try to stop Satan. With one word, Jesus could remove this test immediately, but he doesn't. [SLIDE] Do you know the scene from the Matrix where Neo gets shot at and he just puts out his hand and the bullets stop mid-air and drop to the ground? Well Jeses could do that here, but he doesn't. [BLANK] Peter is going to be tested and sifted but Jesus knows the outcome because he has ALREADY prayed for Peter. JESUS IS STRONGER! V32 Jesus says to Peter "when you have turned back". Jesus knows the outcome of this struggle. Peter is put to the test, he fails but Jesus has it all under control. He knows that Peter will fail but not fall away completely. In fact Jesus goes further, not only does he know that Peter is about to fail, but he tells Peter that when he is restored that he will have work to do. And we can read in John that Peter is fully and wonderfully restored and he goes on to become a foundational and powerful leader in the early church which fulfills Jesus prediction in v32 "When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers". [SLIDE] Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Jesus knows when you will fail. He is praying for you. Restoration is always available to you. The Pride of Peter/Peter the Failure [SLIDE] In a way, i feel a bit sorry for Peter. From one perspective he seems almost caught in the middle of this titanic struggle between Satan and Jesus.[BLANK] Peter has a bit of a reputation for jumping in with both feet and getting ahead of himself. It was Peter after all who jumped overboard to walk on water to Jesus but only lasted a few steps. Jesus predicts Peter's failure and immediately Peter makes an incredibly over confident claim that he will stick by Jesus no matter what. In the safety of the upper room, with his teacher and closest friends Peter, who seems astonished that Jesus would even suggest that he might lose his nerve, emphatically nails his colours to the mast. "I'm ready to go to prison and to death"!! Peter does not realise that in the pressure and heat of the next few hours his confidence and enthusiasm for his faith in Jesus will melt away into the night. Let's take a sneak peak; [SLIDE] 54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him." 57 But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said. 58 A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied. 59 About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." 60 Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. [BLANK] Just a few weeks ago we read about how Judas also failed and betrayed Jesus and I was wondering how this compared to the situation we find in today's text. It doesn't seem as if there is the same assurance of restoration for Judas as there is for Peter. One commentator explains it like this. "On the surface, his (Peters) actions look much like what Judas did, but with crucial differences. Judas took active action against Jesus; Peter sought only to distance himself publicly from Jesus. Judas had a failure of heart; Peter had a failure of nerve and was visibly hurt by his failure" "Any who are confident they can survive on their own strength are often standing on the edge of a fall (1 Cor 10:12). Peters denials remind us that we can fall" I think that most of us could identify in some way with failure, even in small ways. How many of you made a new years resolution this year? It's the middle of March, keep your hand up if you've kept your resolution? How many of us can think of a time recently when we were scared to speak up for our faith in Jesus? I can sing my heart out with tears running down my cheeks on a sunday morning and be all-in with whatever is being taught from the bible that day and then on monday when a colleague asks about my weekend i'm scared to tell them, so i don't! I think in lots of different ways, we all fail time and time again. There is a verse in Romans 3:23" for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" no one is immune from failure. Conclusion [SLIDE] So, what hope is there for failures? I believe that there are two keys [SLIDE] to understanding how we can learn from today's passage, which is good news for failures. 1. The first key is the position of our hearts towards God. We can incline our hearts towards God and be open to him despite our failures, just like Peter. Or we can turn our hearts away from God like Judas and run the risk of being separated forever from the God who made us and loves. 2. The second key is that if our hearts are inclined towards God, He is relentless in his love for us and when we fail, he will restore us. [BLANK] If you are here today and you wouldn't call yourself a christian then I would say to you that these are not just words on a page. This Jesus who is about to die on a cross, died for failures like me and like you. And the good news for you today is that if you turn your heart towards him, he will restore you and give you new life. Imagine it this way; when I failed my motorbike test and I'm standing in the test centre car park feeling like my life has ended and the examiner says, Luke, I've got an offer for you. When I sat my bike test I scored 100%. It was the perfect test with the perfect score. And I tell you what I would like to do. I'll take your certificate and tear it up and I'll let you have my perfect pass certificate. I'll even score out my name and write yours on it. How ridiculous does that sound? Well that is exactly what Jesus offers to do for you. He longs to take your failure and your sin and cast it into the deep and restore you. That can be true for you today. If you are a christian I think there are two main things to learn. 1. Check your heart. Is it inclined towards God? Are you pressing into your heavenly father, or are you turning your back and going your own way? 2. God brings his purposes out of our failures. God not only restores Peter but he has very significant work for him to do. And that is true of us too. 1 peter 5 (paraphrased) All of you, put on humility because God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. So humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Be alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. This looks great! Tidy and clear. Well done! i love you!