Now that You Have Blown It

New Year’s Resolutions

Epic fail signWe are 10 days into the new year…and here is hoping that it has started off great for everyone sitting here in front of me. I know the Lord continues to bless my family and me in 2016.

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? [Wait for hands to raise.] Anyone willing to share one or two things they’ve resolved for 2016? [Wait for answers.]

Are you interested in what other people resolve? I was…and for my tween/teen class last week we went straight to the Internet to find out. Now, I realize that I have to be cautious with that and I pay heed to something a famous president said said that I found on the web. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as advising…

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” 🙂

However, I think Nielsen is pretty safe, and their list of top resolutions for 2015 were:1

Stay fit and healthy 37%
Lose weight 32%
Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
Spend less, save more 25%
Spend more time with family and friends 19%
Get organized 18%
Will not make any resolutions 16%
Learn something new/new hobby 14%
Travel more 14%
Read more 12%

Ignoring the sad commentary on society that not a single one of the top ten resolutions (based on Nielsen’s survey between December 29, 2014 and January 2, 2015) were spiritual…are most of them are at least okay?

If you made any resolutions in 2016…were they included in Nielsen’s list? I had a four that showed up in one form or another…lose weight, be better with money, read more, and get my technical and general ham radio licenses (which would fall under “learn something new/new hobby”).

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the New International Version (1984 edition) unless otherwise noted. ]

So, about 10% of you said you had New Year’s resolutions…or at least admitted it :-)…

How many of you have already failed with your New Year’s resolutions?

You don’t have to raise your hand! 🙂 Just be glad you aren’t somebody who is playing hookie today that resolved to attend church regularly. 🙂

My guess is that the more front-loaded your New Year’s resolutions were, the more likely it is that, 10 days into 2016, you have already slipped up. I don’t trust it as much as Nielsen’s site, but considering I found an article on Forbes that referred to the same page…you might find some other numbers from the Statistic Brain Research Institute interesting. They say it is from University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology.

  • 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions
  • 38% never make New Year’s resolutions.
  • 75% of people who make resolutions make it through the first week…71% the first two weeks…64% the first month.
  • Only 8% actually are successful, although 49% have “infrequent success” (whatever that means)

Pretty depressing, eh? Less than 1 in 10 actually succeeds with their New Year’s resolutions if the numbers are correct. However, they also said:

People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions2

So…more power to explicit resolutions. At work we shoot for SMART goals…specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound. Do that and it sounds like you’ll be 10 times more likely to succeed!

Now that You’ve Blown It

Alan preachingBut, given the high statistical chance that some of you have already “failed”…and that many more of you who made resolutions will fail…I titled this sermon, “Now that You Have Blown It.” It is said that a church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners…

And sinners we all are…

So there is high chance you have blown it or will blow it.

Now, I’m not talking about unimportant ones like “enjoy life to the fullest” or “travel more.” I don’t mean to be harsh…but if those are at the top of your list I would suggest you reconsider your priorities given, if you are a Christian, you claim to put the Kingdom of God first (see Matthew 6:33) and believe you’ll have an eternity in heaven…which will more than satisfy both of those! Now, that’ll be a life to enjoy…and as for travel…I can’t wait until I get to fly to meet Jesus in the sky!

Instead, what if you have already failed at a resolution that really does matter? For instance, what if you resolved to?:

  • Read the Bible daily
  • Stop cranking at your family
  • Pray daily
  • Take care of your body
  • Stop <fill in your sin here>

And maybe that last one is the most important one. Something like reading the Bible daily is a wise resolution, but the Bible itself doesn’t require it…and we should put no burden on ourselves or others that the Word does not. It’s when you resolve to stop doing something wrong by commission or omission that your conscience kicks in…or at least should…

Perhaps making you feel like a complete loser. That God is mad at you. That God rejects you.

If you couldn’t keep your resolutions for even 10 days in 2016 are you a loser? Is God mad at you? Does God reject you?

Where should we find the answers to those questions? The Internet? 🙂

No…of course we should go to the Bible! Let’s dive in!

God…

To start our swim in Scripture, let’s begin with Hebrews 4:14-16. Please turn to page 848 in your pew Bibles:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Does everybody here believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

That Jesus is God?

Jesus is God…and what does this say about God’s view of our weaknesses?

That He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses!

God understands. He’s been tempted in every way as you have…and although He never experienced this part…He understands when you blow it.

No, He’s not happy about your sins…but a God who sympathizes with our weaknesses is not going to reject one of his adopted children (see Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5).

Now, just in case you mentally divide loving Jesus from harsh Father, let’s take a look at something Peter said.

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7, page 859).

When Peter talks of “God’s mighty hand” there…is he likely talking about the Father or the Son? [The Father.]

And what does He say about the Father?

He cares for you.

Let that sync.

He cares for you. God…God the Father…cares for you.

Even when you blow it.

And you will blow it…as we know from the Apostle John “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

When you blow it, remember that you have a Savior who sympathizes with your weaknesses and a Father who cares for you.

Now, that is good news, isn’t it!

God sympathizes with your weaknesses.

God cares for you.

When you blow it, make those statements first person:

God sympathizes with my weaknesses.

God cares for me.

Peter…

Perhaps you think the way you’ve blown it is just too bad.

That Jesus may sympathize with your weaknesses and the Father may care for you…but…

You really blew it. You are sure that…

You are a loser. God is mad at you. God does reject you.

Perhaps it would be good to look at one example…and there are plenty beyond this…of how God treated someone who really, really blew it.

“Denying the Son of God in His time of greatest need” blew it.

Do you know who I’m speaking of? You’ve already heard his name today. Let’s turn to page 703 in your pew Bibles and read Matthew 26:31-35 together):

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

” ‘I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Well, there you go:

  • Jesus tells the disciples they all were going to fall away.
  • Pete insists…do the point of death…he would never do that.
  • Jesus tells Peter he would that very night.
  • Peter reiterates that there is absolutely no way that will happen.

And how did that work out? Let’s literally turn the page and find out:

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75, page 704).

Now, I don’t know how you have blown it…or will blow it…but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty hard to beat that.

  • Peter walked with Jesus.
  • Peter talked with Jesus.
  • Peter was warned by Jesus.
  • And Peter emphatically blew it. Not once. Not twice. But three times.
  • When Jesus needed him most.

And if you want something else to think about…when you blow it others may know about it…but often only you and God are aware.

This “epic fail” (to use modern terms) of Peter’s is recorded in every Bible printed.

Four times in every Bible printed.

Not just four times…in each in every Gospel…Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…

But they all record both Peter’s insistence that he would never abandon Jesus and him doing exactly that.

Every Bible. Four times. Assurance and failure. Epic promise and epic failure.

And you think you blew it? You think you are embarrassed?!

Chin Up

We don’t have time to discuss “epic fail” Peter’s life going forward from that point…but we know that God used him mightily and that we’ll see him in heaven when we get there. Although Peter was far from perfect going forward (think of Paul, in Galatians 2:11-13, saying he had to rebuke Peter’s hypocrisy), it is no wonder tradition says he was crucified upside down because he felt he was unworthy to be killed the same way Jesus was. Peter knew who Jesus was. Peter was truly saved. Peter was willing to die for his faith.

And, you know, the same Jesus who predicted Peter’s epic fail also predicted his return. I mentioned that all four gospels capture Peter’s confidence he wouldn’t deny Jesus…let’s look something recorded uniquely by Luke in his version:

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:31-34, page 746).

When I blow it I like to remember one phrase in those four verses:

“When you turn back.”

“When you turn back.”

Jesus knew Peter would blow it.

Jesus knew Peter would turn back.

Jesus knows you are going to blow it.

Jesus knows you are going to turn back.

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one” (John 10:25-30, page 760).

  • You believe because you are His sheep.
  • You hear His voice and you follow Him.
  • Nobody…not even you…can snatch you out of His hand.
  • You will not perish.
  • Jesus sympathizes with your weaknesses.
  • God the Father cares.
  • When you blow it, Jesus knows you are going to turn back.

Now, that’s good news, isn’t it?!

Sin Matters

There are two gotchas with my sermon right now.

First, it could easily seem that there is nothing horrible about you blowing it…that sinning is no big deal.

But, brothers and sisters, it is a big deal. Big enough that the sinless Son of God had to give up His glory in heaven and die for you:

6 Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8, page 831)

Your sins…our sins…led to His death.

The second gotcha with my sermon up to now is that although I’ve given you plenty of feel good “God won’t forsake you” words…I really haven’t told you what to do when you blow it. Luckily, it is really simple. Earlier I quoted 1 John 1:8…let’s go ahead and take a look at 1 John 1:9 (page 862):

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

When you blow it, what should you do?

Confess…which includes repenting of…your sins.

And He is faithful and just and will forgive you.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. If you made resolutions, I hope you are able to keep them all.

But sooner or later…resolutions or God’s commandments…everyone in this building is going to blow it.

When you blow it, remember:

  • You believe because you are His sheep.
  • You hear His voice and you follow Him.
  • Nobody…not even you…can snatch you out of His hand.
  • You will not perish.
  • Jesus sympathizes with your weaknesses.
  • God the Father cares.
  • When you blow it, Jesus knows you are going to turn back.
  • Confess and repent of your sins…He is faithful and just and will forgive you.

You Must Be Saved

Of course, all my “God won’t forsake you” words and “confessing equals forgiveness” can only be comforting if you are actually saved. Also, if you think yourself a Christian and you unabashedly sin…there is a good chance you aren’t.

If you aren’t saved then when you blow it you should be worried. Very worried. Eternal fate worried.

However, even if you aren’t saved Jesus sympathizes with your weaknesses and invites you to “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. (Acts 16:31, in part). “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38, in part).

If you aren’t saved or aren’t sure, please come forward during the final song and let our deacons and deaconesses pray for you and with you. If you can’t quite do that…too bashful…then please be sure to grab on after the service and make sure you are prepared for when you blow it.

Because you will.

Footnotes

12015’s Top New Year’s Resolution? Fitness!! (2015, January 8). Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/2015s-top-new-years-resolution-fitness.html

2New Years Resolution Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/


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