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Sunday, 12 January 2014

'THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES'

Rev. Juliet Schimpf
By Rev. Juliet Schimpf   

Rev. Juliet Schimpf  is the Minister of 
First Baptist  Church in Perth, Ontario:

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LINK to CFRA broadcast of Sunday, January 12th, 2014) 
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Broadcast Notes:
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'The God of Second Chances'


To discuss “The God of Second Chances” we’ll start by looking at John21: 4-23. The passage is about Jesus appearing to his disciples after his Resurrection.

Context of today’s talk:

1.    A Failure to be Re-framed
2.    A Partnership to be Maintained
3.    A Focus to be Sustained

1.A Failure to Be Re-framed

*  A DEJECTED PETER HAD GONE BACK TO HIS TRADE—FISHING!
*  the failure addressed in the text is that of Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus Christ
*  This matter is urgent:  “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."   (Mark 8:38)

* PETER—WHO HAD VEERED OFF COURSE—WAS CATCHING NO FISH?!  NOT UNTIL JESUS CAME ALONG…
*  JESUS WANTS HIM TO BE A FISHER OF ‘MEN’

*  In verses 15-18, we see Jesus re-frame Peter’s failure:  “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?  ‘Yes Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.  Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’  Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?  He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’  The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son O John, do you love me?  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’  He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’

*  A.  NOTICE FIRST:  that Peter’s failure frames his assigned calling…
*  that is, it is precisely his brokenness and failure that qualified him for his calling….
*  Peter’s assigned ministry is not the result of his special worthiness since it follows after his failure in discipleship and after reconciliation with his Lord. 
*  ….so, too, our brokenness, and our failures, that qualify us for our calling…
*  THE BEATITUDES:  “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope:  with less of you, there can be more of God.”  (THE MESSAGE) 

*  Isn’t it odd that I should start by talking about failures?
*  but this is precisely how the text begins; it begins with the failure or trouble of Peter, and then moves to the grace of Jesus Christ
*  Raymond Brown explains, “Christ always comes to us amid our difficulties, our suffering, and our troubles…. We might think just the opposite is true.  We might think that Christ comes when we get ourselves straightened out, when our faith and confidence is the strongest.  But the risen Christ seeks to address us in our neediest times and in our moments of failure.”

B.  NOTICE SECOND:  How Jesus restores Peter…. by calling him into profound truth.  
*  Jesus probes into Peter’s denials and he requires Peter to address them head on. 
*  Notice the question Jesus asks Peter:  “do you love me more than these?”

William Barclay points out that this question could mean at least two things:
            a)  perhaps Jesus swept his hand around the boat and its nets and equipment and the catch of fishes, and said to Peter, “Simon, do you love me more than these things?  Are you prepared to give them all up, to abandon all hope of a successful career, to give up a steady job and a reasonable comfort?”
            b)  it may be that Jesus looked at the rest of the little group of disciples and said to Peter:  Simon, do you love me more than your fellow-disciples do?”  It may be that Jesus was looking back to a night when Peter said:  “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33)

*  Jesus brings up Peter’s denials and addresses them head on.  This must have been awkward for Peter, and humiliating.  But if we are to follow Christ, we must bring our failures directly into the presence of Christ and address them head on.
 
*  F.F. BRUCE:  “Behind the specifics of Peter’s situation lies a principle of universal application.  Before Jesus can be followed and served, the sin in our lives has to be addressed.  Jesus is insistent on this, even to the point of Peter’s being hurt (vs. 17)…A relationship with Jesus begins when, in his presence, we face up to all that grieves and contradicts God’s holy will in our lives, whatever this may cost us.” 
*  Peter did not forget this principle when he proclaimed the gospel to others.  Acts 2 records “What shall we do?”…’Repent and be baptized, every one of you…for the forgiveness of your sins’.” 


2.  A Partnership to be Maintained

*  The experience of being forgiven clears the way for Peter to serve Jesus. 
*  Peter restored is Peter re-commissioned…
*  Peter would go on to preach at Pentecost, when 3,000 people are saved

*  BUT THE KEY TO LIVING OUT OUR CALLING IS TO MAINTAIN A PARTNERSHIP

*  and so in verses 15-18, Jesus tells Peter, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” “Feed my Sheep”

1.  Calvin helps us to understand the first.  He emphasizes that Christ is the only Pastor or Shepherd of the Church.  Calvin writes, “This is why Christ takes this name to himself.  It is, because he feeds, that is, he governs his sheep, because he is the only true food of the soul.”

2.  to maintain our partnership with Christ, we must consistently die to self
*  Peter, having accepted his commission, is immediately confronted with its cost (vv. 18-19).
*  “Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.”
*  this is all about dying to self:  Jesus prophecies that even before Peter is led to his death, his self-will will be thwarted and he will be “led where he does not want to go”
*  Why is it that Jesus discusses a cross immediately after He discusses the fact that Peter must tend for and feed Christ’s sheep?
*  The answer has everything to do with shepherding:  John10:11
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Are we not to emulate our Teacher, the Good Shepherd:  Jesus Christ
*  Barclay states that “The rest of Peter’s life must be lived in the shadow of the cross.” 
*  I would suggest that, so too, our callings must be carried out in the shadow of the cross

3.  A Focus to be Sustained

*  Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.  (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’)  21  When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’  Jesus answered, “if I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me.’  Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die…..But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’

-we start to look around; we lose our focus
-focus upon Christ
-look at verses 19-20:  “Jesus said to Peter, Follow me!” 

-no coincidence that this discussion about following Jesus come right after Christ’s questions about Peter’s love for him
-LOVING GOD HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH focus and direction in our lives….our hearts are intimately connected to our volition or will
-CHURCHILL:  ‘THROW YOUR HEART OVER THE BAR AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW…”

-JESUS HAD FOCUS, SELFLESSNESS, TOTAL COMMITMENT TO GOD that we need to emulate

-Max Lucado writes, “One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target.  His life never got off track…He had no administrative assistants or staff, yet He did what many of us fail to do:  He kept his life on course…He could have been a political revolutionary.  He could have been a national leader. ..But He had a single purpose:  The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them” (Luke 19:10)…”The Son of Man did not come to be served.  He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45).   The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task.  The day he left the carpentry shop of Nazareth he had one ultimate aim—the cross of Calvary.  He was so focused that his final words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30)  How could Jesus say he was finished?  There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct…How could he say he was finished?  Simple.  He had completed his designated task.”  (Just Like Jesus)

*  LESSLIE NEWBIGIN:  It is utterly impossible to “Follow Jesus” in our own strength and wisdom.  We will fail him.  It is crucial, then, that we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are making all things new. And we come to you today like Peter. And some of us have failed you, or wronged you. And we ask, this day, that you would re-frame our failures. We ask, Lord, that you would re-frame them, and forgive them, for you are the God of second chances.
I pray, also, for the listener who needs help to maintain their partnership with you. For the listener who needs encouragement, Lord, would you grant that, this hour? Remind them that you are right there with them, and (that) they are running this race with you.
And, lastly, for the person who needs help focusing on Christ in the year ahead, I pray that he or she would forget the mistakes of the past and press on to win the prize in Christ.
For your glory we ask it. Amen.

Rev. Juliet Schimpf
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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