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Religion: Second Chances

web posted October 28, 2015

By Pastor Phillip Howle
RELIGION- I have worked a ton of odd jobs in my life. My first was hauling hot and dirty mulch in the afternoon with my dad. We used his truck, his gas, and he helped with the work, but gave me all the money. Thanks dad! I was a short lived color blind electrician’s helper (think about it and you’ll realize why that career was doomed to fail.). I have bussed tables, washed dishes, cooked, and served in restaurants. I worked in discount fashion while in college (the color blindness was also a factor here).

But, my first “real” job was at Fuji Film. It was 12 hour swing shifts (God bless all shift workers!) My job was simple: I had to dump the cases (tops and bottoms) that film used to come in into large machines that did the final assembly. A trained monkey could have easily accomplished it. I had just finished my first year in college as a business management major, and though I felt prepared to be the CEO, I humbled myself to be a lowly materials handler.  My first day on the job I was flying, dumping film cases as fast as I could, until I heard beeps and lights going off every where. It sounded almost like a fire alarm. I had no clue what was wrong.

 Well come to find out, in my arrogant haste I had dumped the tops where the bottoms were supposed to go and I had dumped the bottoms where the tops were supposed to go.  I had single handedly stopped production for Fuji Film North America! All the machines stopped and all the 15 operators and the managers were looking at the new college guy with the nicely flowing curly long hair (I just had to add that in). All of a sudden my potential as CEO of Fuji went down the drain. I felt like an idiot, I was an idiot! I was not even as bright as a trained monkey! I have the feeling some of you are shouting amen!

To my surprise I was not walked out the door, but the boss did talk to me about going too fast and that I needed to slow down. He gave me a second chance, and I humbly helped straighten out the huge mess that I had made. I also endured constant ribbing for the rest of the summer, but I deserved that.

Now, I tell this story to show you an undeserved second chance. They could have and probably should have fired me that day. There is no telling how much I cost them in lost time and productivity. Instead, they did not just forgive my mistake; they also gave me back the full responsibility I had before, which admittedly was not much.

You know one thing I absolutely love about God is that He is the God of second chances. Think about Peter. He was one of the best known of Jesus' disciples, and he served as an unofficial spokesman for the group. Peter was brash and outspoken, but he was intensely loyal to Jesus. But we all know sadly Peter became a tragic moral failure.

You know what happened. Jesus was arrested and put on trial. Peter lingered outside the courthouse warming himself by a fire. As he stood there trying not to be noticed, a young woman spotted him and accused him of being a follower of Jesus. Peter was probably frightened by the accusation so he denied it. But the young woman wouldn't back off. She accused Peter a second time. Again Peter denied any association with Jesus. Then as he made his loud denial the crowd picked up on his accent. The accent was a dead giveaway. Peter wasn't from their part of the country. He was from up north. So the crowd joined the young woman in accusing Peter of being a disciple of Jesus. Then Peter cursed and swore and denied that he even knew Jesus. In that hour of crisis, Peter betrayed his good friend.

If you had been there and heard Peter utter a stream of profanity to deny Jesus, would you have written him off? If you were Jesus would you have given up on Peter? If a friend did that to you, would you forgive him?

That was a sad episode in Peter's life. And later, when he realized what he had done, he wept bitterly. Peter must have wondered if there was any hope for him. After all, in a way, he was no better than Judas who had betrayed Jesus. Peter had betrayed a friend, someone he had once sworn to protect.

Yet, after his resurrection, Jesus went looking for Peter. You see, Jesus had died for Peter. He died so that Peter's sins could be forgiven and so that your sin and mine could be forgiven. That is why Jesus forgave this man who had vehemently denied him. What is more, Jesus restored Peter and set him free. In a matter of a few weeks Peter preached the first Christian sermon. That sermon was about the forgiveness of sin. Out of his defeat, Peter learned something. He learned that God is the God of second chances.
 
So today if you feel you have failed God too much or blown it, know God loves you, and know God is not through you. But you must do as Acts 3:19 tells us, “turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Grateful for all the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth…Chances God has given me!

Pastor Phillip







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