If we humbly confess our sins and failures, the Lord faithfully forgives us and immediately restores our fellowship with Him: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But He doesn’t stop there. He immediately schedules another chance for us to obey, providentially arranging another situation spiritually similar to the one in which we failed.
Why? To punish us further by cruelly reminding us of our failures? No, His kind purpose is just the opposite. He wants us to be able to forget our failures completely. So He provides us with another chance that we might avenge our spiritual defeats and live thereafter in the joy of overcoming rather than the frustration of failure. He wants us to be more than forgiven; He wants us victorious! Joyful! Soaring!
Not surprisingly, our Creator understands our deepest thoughts. He knows that even when we believe that we’re forgiven, the memories of our past failures tend to linger and vex us. Like David, we sometimes feel as if our sins are always before us (see Ps. 51:3).
In His mercy, therefore, our Father arranges “replacement tests” or “supplemental exams” for His discouraged students, so our troublesome memories may be cleared and replaced forever with pleasant memories of tests overcome and victories won. As David also wrote, “For by thee have I run through a troop [of enemies]; and by my God have I leaped over a wall [of opposition]” (Ps. 18:29, KJV, brackets added).
Jesus’ blood gives us the peace of forgiveness, but only our obedience in tests gives us the joy of overcoming. After redeeming our pasts with fresh victories, we can close the chapter on our season of trials, the agitation of regret gone, and “joy unspeakable and full of glory” abiding (1 Peter 1:8).
The ministry of second chances is one of God’s ways taught throughout the Bible. Jonah and Peter exemplify it best.
Another chance for Jonah. When God first ordered Jonah to preach to Ninevah, he went in the opposite direction. He flatly rebelled and was unwilling to offer God’s grace to the ungracious, ungodly, bullying nation of Assyria.
His rebellion brought swift, divine chastisement. After experiencing a terrifying storm and a three-day stay in a fish’s stomach, Jonah cried out with genuine repentance. God faithfully forgave him, but the divine dealings did not end there.
The Lord promptly arranged for Jonah to be tested again as he had been tested before: “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time, saying, Arise, go into Ninevah” (Jonah 3:1-2, emphasis added).
In this second call, Jonah clearly recognized that he was being given another chance and had a perfect opportunity to redeem his earlier failure. What followed was one of history’s greatest revivals.
Another chance for Peter. Under severe testing in the high priest’s courtyard, Peter broke down and failed the Lord. He denied Him three times. Then Jesus turned and looked at him. That one look inflicted more pain than a thousand lashes.
Peter failed the Lord terribly at the most crucial moment and he knew it—and could do nothing about it! Or so he thought. But God graciously gave him “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10), and in the throes of his greatest personal defeat to date, Peter wept his way through to repentance and confession.
After His death and resurrection, the Lord personally commissioned Peter for his ministry. So when Jesus ascended several days later, Peter was more than a forgiven man. Thanks to his second chance, he was fully restored, recharged and ready to lead!
Here is encouragement for every Christian. If we fail God under trial, we need not succumb to despair. Final defeat is not inevitable, nor is a lasting victory out of reach.
While expecting another chance, our next trial may be identical to the one we just failed, a déjà-vu experience like Jonah’s “second time.” Or it may be spiritually similar yet visually different. Also remember your supplemental exam may come immediately or eventually days or years later. But come it will. God never misses a detail.
Whenever He sends you another chance, seize it. Where you feared before, trust. Where you held back earlier, give. Where you denied the Lord previously, confess. Where up until now you’ve been hardhearted, be kind and gentle. Where you formerly compromised Christ’s righteousness stand unyielding. Where you stopped short in the past, press on to the finish. Then you can exchange the shame and frustration of defeat for the irrepressible joy of an enduring victory. As Isaiah said, the Father will give “them that mourn in Zion … the oil of joy for mourning [and] the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Is. 61:3).
Adapted from Spiritual Truths for Overcoming Adversity by Greg Hinnant, copyright 2010, published by Creation House. This book explores the deep mystery of adversity, revealing God’s loving guidance, wisdom, and purpose in Christian difficulties. It will help you understand and cooperate with God so He can mature your faith and prepare you for full usefulness. To order a copy click on this link:
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 5/21/2012
Thank God for another chance at redemption. Confess your shortcomings, fears, faults and failures and rely on his total forgiveness and restoration. Intercede for our nation and ask Him for yet another chance to spread the gospel and usher in revival. Pray for our young people and ask the Lord to release angels to war on their behalf and protect them from the seduction of the enemy. Pray that the body of Christ would stand firm on His Word, be united in passion and purpose for His will, and do things His way. Pray for the upcoming elections and the protection of Israel. Call America back to its biblical foundations, shatter deception with God’s Truth, and bring His love and presence into the dark corners of our communities. 2 Cor. 7:10; 1 John 1:9
To enrich your prayer life and learn how to strategically pray with power by using appropriate scriptures, we recommend the following sources by Apostle John Eckhardt: Prayers that Rout Demons, Prayers that Bring Healing, Prayers that Release Heaven on Earth and Prayers that Break Curses. To order any or all of these click here.