Every Day Offers us a Second Chance
Now that the year is coming to an end, many of us have a tendency to think back over the past 12 months and reflect on the good times and the bad, our successes and failures, our personal times of growth, and unfortunately our shortcomings or times of personal failure. And as we do this we may even experience an array of feeling and emotions; from a feeling of thanksgiving, and satisfaction, to feelings of disappointment in our self knowing that we probably could and should have done better. And today I want to address these feelings of personal disappointment in our self.
If we are honest with our self, even the best of us realize that somewhere along the line, we fail now and then in our relationship to God. And I don’t know about you but this bothers me more than anything else. And it’s probably not the best way to start a New Year, all down and depressed.
If we are honest and have a humble spirit you may even have a list of personal failures and you may be very disappointed in yourself knowing that you should have done better as a Christian. There seem to be so many ways for us to mess up. (List some examples) Read Ephesians 4:17-5:5
Its one thing to think back over the year and second guess things that you did at you job, in your business, whether you should have bought something or not, whether you should have spoke up about something or not. There may be a hundred other things we did, or decisions we made over the past year that we now question, but nothing pulls at the heart string of a Christian like knowing that he or she failed our Lord in some way.
I am not sure where some of us got the image of God being an old angry man with a long beard ready to zap us from out of existence for each error we make, but it did not come from the Bible.
If anything the Bible lets us know that our God is one who will forgive those who are humble and repent. He took a murderer by the name of Moses, and turned him into a great national and spiritual leader. He took an adulterer and murderer like David, and used him to write many of the Psalms to strengthen and encourage the people of God. He took a woman who had been married and divorced five times and was now living with a sixth man and turned her into the first evangelist to go into Samaria. He took a guy who was determined to eradicate and destroy His church and turned him into one of the greatest evangelists and church builders of all time. He even took some of us, and turned our whole life around compared to what we once were. Our God is a God who will forgive humble ones who know that they have messed up and asked for His forgiveness and favor.
Today I would like to read a story from the Old Testament that shows just how forgiving and merciful our God can be if we truly repent.
Read: 2 Chronicles 33:1-11
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.
7 He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.”
Here in our reading, we read about King Manasseh, who had the opportunity to be a great king and have the greatest impact because he was the longest reigning king. He ruled for 55 years. His father had been a king who loved the Lord and did a lot in leading the nation back to serving God.
But as soon as Manasseh got the opportunity, he undid everything his father had spiritually tried to do for the nation. Manasseh spent most of his 55 years doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. He worshiped idols, tried talking to dead people through witches and sorcerers, he sacrificed his sons as human offerings to idols, he put to death innocent people who challenged what he was doing.
The account of Manasseh in 2 Kings tells us he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Tradition tells us he had the prophet Isaiah sawn in half.
Manasseh was full of pride. He did not have to answer to anyone. He did not apologize to anyone for anything he did. He could care less about God. But one day, God decided enough was enough. God sent the King of Assyria to invade Jerusalem. Manasseh was captured, and they put a hook in his nose and chains on his hands and feet and led him away as though he was some wild animal.
This former king was thrown into some Assyrian prison. All the riches and power of which he had boasted now meant absolutely nothing. None of the many idols he had made and created could do much to help him. His situation was hopeless, and he was helpless. Talk about someone who messed up.
It was probably in the dark of the prison, where Manasseh remembered, that the God of Israel, was a second chance God. And now look at what happens in this story;
“12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
14 Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah.
15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.”
This murderous, lying, abuser of people, finally humbled himself before our God and then prayed. There are a lot of people who do not understand how big the heart of God is. Maybe even some of us actually believe it’s possible, if we have done something so bad, God may not love or forgive us. The encouraging news I have for you and me today is that when this evil man humbled himself before God, God was willing to forgive him and had a new plan for his Life, and likewise even though you may have messed up some this year, if you have the right heart God will forgive you put His plan to work in your life this up and coming year.
Manasseh, whose life was a complete moral and spiritual disaster, got a second chance from a loving God who gives 2nd chances. And then he spent the rest of his life trying to lead his people back to God. There’s not a soul here who can go back into the past and change what was said or what was done, but all of us have the opportunity in God to make a positive difference in what takes place from here on out. So what if you’ve blown it for the past year, or two, or even for the past twenty years, or past 40 years. You don’t have to end up a failure in God’s eyes or even your own. I know its hard to live a perfectly sinless life. Even the strongest believer has weaknesses and occasionally fails. Sin is a reality we must all face. It seems that no amount of faith or love for Jesus can make us immune to failure or guarantee that we will not sin. The apostle Paul understood and said it this way in Romans 7:21-25
“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The only hope that we have is because of grace and mercy Jesus our Lord is willing to show us. He will give even the worst failures a 2nd chance., but we have to have the right attitude. John wrote in 1 John. 1:9
“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Isn’t that what you want? I therefore encourage you to take life one day at a time. And when your feel tempted, seek God’s help. And if you do fail, learn from those people of old, like David, and Manasseh, Samson, Paul and so many others. Humble yourself before our Lord, leave the past in the past, trust in our awesome God, and He will lift you up.