Tonight I would like to talk about the God for the 2nd Opportunity.
I can praise God, because He is a God of the 2nd Chance, or 3rd chance, even forth. I look upon my own life when I have bumbled and fumbled in life, and even ran from God and He still watched over me. I’ve told you before that I heard the voice of God calling me into the ministry and I ran. I ran for years. During that run from God, I did not even follow God for a time when I was young. I was a vagrant homeless orphan. I had a home, but I did not fit in anywhere I felt. Probably because of a lack of faith primarily in myself to believe God for me. As I look back, I feel I missed many opportunities, even when I returned back into the loving arms of my Savior, because I still held back.
I try not to look back, look at my past feeling like I was stranded in the middle of a wasteland, or lost up on some mountain somewhere, because that is how it felt, watching opportunities go by and feeling that those can never be retained or found again. But our God doesn’t work that way. We do in our own humanity, by believing lies about ourselves.
It may be that you believed in something, maybe for years and you lost the dream, because of time. Been there too, but God is a God of promises, and is the God of the second and more chance, and we must believe that when He says something, or even places a dream in us, He will fulfill it. He fulfills His word. Today in this age, He really wants us to believe that. Jesus wants a church that believes in the power of His Name, and the power of His Word. In the days a head of us, we will need it.
I have two stories tonight. One story of a guy who ran, and was restored. Given His second chance. Another about two men, who believed, but had to wait because of other’s unbelief. These are stories that God is a God of restoration, and a God that fulfills His promises.
Lets first look at the guy who fell, ran, and was restored. It is the story of Apostle Peter. In the early days, he was Simon, but having an encounter with Jesus in John 1:42, Jesus changes his name to Cephas which means “Peter the Rock”. Peter was just that. He was a rough gruff tough type a guy. He carried a sword, and would use it if needed. But Peter was also aware of the spiritual things. His heart was not that hard. Lets turn to Matthew 16: beginning with verse 13,
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.” Holman Standard Version
Peter was in tune with the Spirit of God. But Peter, still being a man, still thought with his head, instead of his Jesus filled heart, concerning the truths that Jesus taught. Peter as well as the other Disciples did wondrous things in the power of Jesus name while Jesus was with them. They healed people and cast out dark spirits, and brought restoration, but when the rubber hit the road and Jesus was on trial, Peter rejected Jesus and ran for his life.
Jesus told His Disciples what was coming, He would be handed over to the priests and flogged and crucified but He said I will be raised on the third day, but when it actually happened, Peter’s own logic, and flesh got in the way. And we know the story. Even the story of Jesus teklling Peter that he would deny Him, which he did. Lets look at Matthew 26 beginning with verse 69.
“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. (this after Jesus has been taken) A servant approached him and she said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too.” But he denied it in front of everyone: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” When he had gone out to the gateway, another woman saw him and told those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!” And again he denied it with an oath, “I don’t know the man!” After a little while those standing there approached and said to Peter, “You certainly are one of them, since even your accent gives you away.” Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know the man!”
It says that Peter knowing what he did by denying his Lord, after he ran away, wept bitterly.
How many times have we who know Christ, and because of our logic, and our flesh have denied Him? I ran from Him. I ran myself into a jungle. The jungle of the world with no hope or direction. Because that is what is out there when you run from God. But, but……. Jesus is not one to let things go. He would not let go of me. He knows me. He knows me better than I do. He knows the beginning from the end of everything. He knows what a glorious future I would have in Him if I just reopened the door to my heart and let Him rule and reign in me.
Simon Peter was at that point. He like we, had to repent. When he wept, his heart was broken for his King and His God, and he knew his failure. I believe Jesus took that into account. Peter’s brokenness and humility.
Peter did not stop being a Disciple because of his failings. He wasn’t rejected. By his own brokenness and returning to the other Disciples, he regained his new found hope in Jesus. That’s why we should not be alone. Or be with people who are in a state of denial, or want nothing to do with Jesus. That’s why we need family in the Body of Christ.
In John 20, it is Peter and John who run to the tomb upon Mary Magdalene’s discovery that the tomb was empty even though they still did not understand the resurrection.
Then Jesus shows up. “Peace to you!” he says. Interesting statement. Jesus is saying outright, “I am back, and everything is going to be okay. I have fulfilled what I said, and will continue to fulfill it.” In Chapter 21 of the Book of John starting at verse 15, we read that Jesus restores Peter through Peter’s confession and says to Peter, “Follow me.”
Jesus, the God of second chances. Peter who denied Jesus three times, Peter who cut off Malcus the High Priest’s aid ear when Jesus was arrested. Peter the thick skulled Disciple from my view who was like many of us, was restored. And he was not just put into good favor with Jesus, but after the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached the first sermon of the new church and 3000 were saved. That is our Jesus who wants none left behind, who is always for us.
We all have a past, yes, Peter had a past too, but Jesus is the one who forgives. He was sent to earth by God His Father to do just that and bring restoration to people, and to open the door to the fulfilled life. Peter was never to far away from the outstretched arm of the Lord. Neither are we. We were created to do great things in Jesus name, not just the same things. We just have to believe it and live it.
Now lets look at a story of two guys that believed, but were surrounded by others who didn’t and they had to go on a long journey to see God fulfill His promise.
Let turn to the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament, to Chapter 12 beginning with verse 16, and it states that the Children of Israel camped in the Wilderness of Paran. Yes, the Children of Israel with Moses traveling to the land that God promised them. The Wilderness of Paran, not that far really to the end of their journey. Lets open the Word to Numbers Chapter 13, beginning with verse 1.
Numbers 13:1, “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them. 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel.”
And as you read down, we see all the names of the chiefs of the tribes of Israel who were to go as God commanded, but two chief’s names stand out.
Looking at Numbers 13, verse 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; and from verse 8, from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea (ho-shay-ah), the son of Nun;
Moving down to verse 16, it states, These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. (or as we know of him, Joshua)
The name Caleb means “of Force or Attack”, and Jehoshua means “Deliverer”. So these two with the other 10 chief men travel off to spy on the land of Canaan to see if the people who dwell there are strong or weak. The Canaanites were the sons of the lineage of Canaan, who the son of Ham who was the son of Noah. So the twelve travel for 40 Days, and return to tell what they saw.
Numbers 13:26, “The men went back to Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for them and the whole community, and they showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They reported to Moses: “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. 28 However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hethites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.” 30 Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it! 31 But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are!” 32 So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. 33 We even saw the Nephilim there—the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”
Only Joshua and Caleb believed in God. They knew that he was larger then the giants, and all the other inhabitants of the land. But the others prevailed in their disbelief, and because of it God almost destroyed them all.
Joshua and Caleb had of faith in God, because I believe they saw a larger story that God was writing for the people. They were to be a part of that story. They knew God’s promise for Abraham. They also knew that allowing God to use them for the greater picture that was unfolding, it would bring victory for their people. But because of that faith, it would cause them to have influence for the future, and it did, and they probably didn’t recognize that at the time.
When we are put into the position of being the “yes God can do anything position,” we do not back down even in persecution for our faith. In Number 14, Joshua and Caleb did not, and were almost stoned because of it. They stood for truth because of their knowledge of God. They had seen Him. All of the Israelites had, but unbelief can step in so quickly when we perceive things in the physical. Through it all, God honored Joshua and Caleb for their faith. God does that. He will honor you for your faith and obedience.
So Moses relays what God said to him:
Deuteronomy 35-38, “None of these men in this evil generation will see the good land I swore to give your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land on which he has set foot, because he remained loyal to the LORD.’ “The LORD was angry with me also because of you and said: ‘You will not enter there either. Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, will enter it. Encourage him, for he will enable Israel to inherit it.
So both Joshua and Caleb experienced a long delay in their destiny and calling. They had to wander in the desert for 40 years, and wait for a generation to die off. They suffered from the consequences of other people's sin of unbelief. Some time we do too. But we must continue in faith, believing in the Words of God that He will do what He said.
And I know that in this day of disbelief, those who believe in the fullness of the Word of God are verbally attacked by those who do not believe. But we must hang onto what we know, we must hang on to the truth, and endure the times, and see God move, when He is ready to move, and we will be like the Joshua’s and Caleb’s and reap the rewards.
But God the God of promises fulfilled after 40 years has Joshua lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land, and who is with him, Caleb who receives his inheritance just as God said.
God honored Caleb and Joshua’s faith, even though it took time. Even when we think we may have missed the boat. We may have forgotten the dream, in God’s eyes, the dream is still real and it is still there. We need to believe even when it seems impossible. Imagine wandering in the desert for 40 years watching all your friends die on the way. But Joshua and Caleb I imagine had the same faith at the end of their journey as they did in the beginning.
Joshua and Caleb were given a second opportunity to view the land, and God allowed them take it. Today, I believe we are in the same season. There are Joshua’s and Caleb’s who have been waiting and praying, some for years to see the “Promised Land” so to speak, and I believe that soon God is going to fulfill His promises and we are going to take the land. The land is the hearts of men and women, into the Kingdom of God. Especially for here in Kenosha.
We are getting our second chance, getting our second opportunity, and we are getting our second wind. The next wind will be the mighty breath of God blowing over us, and this area.
God is raising a generation who believes and those who have believed, will partner together. God will lead them to each other, so they will not have to listen to lies anymore, or be among those who have no faith in our Father in Heaven.
That generation of Joshua’s and Caleb’s are going to have Book of Acts, Church of Acts experiences. We just have to believe.
We have to be like Caleb. We have to ask for the promise.
Joshua 14 “Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.”
We can’t grow weary in prayer! We can’t grow weary in asking. We contend for the promise. Opportunity is near, and on the way, we need patience. God has heard us. He is at work in the Spirit in places we cannot see. But we must still believe. So be the Joshua and be the Caleb.
But back to the guy I was, Simon Peter. Back to those who have failed and ran, and maybe hid. It is time for restoration. Time for renewal. Time to believe again without fear. Time to allow the Lord to walk you through dark places maybe into light.
Time to believe in God that He will heal you, but you must listen and do what he says to be restored. I had to do:
2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I needed restoration. I confessed, and repented and was restored, and God healed me, and I am in the middle of one of my many chances.
Jesus said is what we need in our lives. We must live what Jesus said. Then opportunities are in front of us, and no need for another chance. We make it hard, but there is only one way.