Recently I have been pondering how to "move on" from personal mistakes or moral failure. We all make mistakes, failing to measure up to God's or our own standards and expectations, don't we? Words are said, actions taken, responsibilities neglected, promises broken, expectations crushed, and weaknesses exposed. Christians are not immune on this side of eternity from willfully or accidentally acting in ways that dishonor God and hurt others and ourselves.
The Bible is pretty clear about how to bounce back when we willfully or accidentally sin or just plain make mistakes. Here is a brief summary . . .
1. Call a spade a spade: Psalm 32:5 says: "Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity"Acknowledge the mistake or failure for what it is. If sin is involved, (rebellion against God or lack of love and respect toward our neighbors) own it!
2. Confess to God first. Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit with me." Getting right with God opens doors for peace, reconciliation, and power for dealing with the mistake or failure.
3. Ask God for wisdom, insight, conviction, perspective and strength to face the mistake or failure. Psalm 77:2 says, "When I was in distress, I sought the Lord." Also, Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask and it shall be given to you."
4. Seek wise counsel if necessary to discern how to deal with the mistake or failure. Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." A trusted friend can give perspective, offer prayer, and provide help with moving forward.
5. Make amends quickly with those you have failed. Matthew 5:25 says "Settle matters quickly with your adversary." An important aspect of bouncing back is taking responsibility for our actions and, as much as it depends on us, seeking to right our wrongs.
6. Remember God's promises: Romans 8:1 says, "No condemnation remains for those who are in Christ Jesus" - Don't get paralyzed by guilt. Remember, that "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret" (2 Corinthians 7:10).
7. Ask God to transform the mistake or failure for good.Romans 8:28 says, "God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes."
8. After steps 1 - 7, Let it go. Psalm 103:12, says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us." Move on, asking for God's perspective and the power to keep from making the same mistake again.
Our God delights in redeeming mistakes. Will we let him? Oh, and one more thing: When we undergo this process ourselves, it makes it easier to offer forgiveness to others when they sin or make mistakes against us.
Have you ever heard of Joseph? Gideon? Hezekiah? Moses? How about David, Stephen or Esther? What do they have in common? Each faced challenges that seemed unbeatable, overwhelming odds stacked against their ability to live in peace and accomplish God's purposes. And what did they do? They prayed, sought counsel, and walked in faith, putting their trust in the God "with whom all things are possible."
In his book Fresh Faith, Jim Cymbala writes:
"So many times when we get into emergencies and the situation seems hopeless - it's actually a set up. God wants to do something great. He wants to demonstrate His power, so that His Name will be praised in a new and greater way ... [so that] the next generation will hear all about it... Why? Because God wants to publish everywhere through our lives the testimony of His mighty power and salvation."
How about you? Facing any overwhelming challenges or emergencies today? Tempted to give up? Despair? Are you paralyzed with fear or disappointment? You are not alone. The People of God have faced overwhelming obstacles since day one. Here are a couple of ways to ignite the fire of faith in God in the face of overwhelming challenges:
1. Read God's Word. Read the stories of Joseph (Genesis 37), Esther, Daniel and Paul (Acts 9- 28). Read Psalms 25,27, 46, 91, or 103 to name a few. God's Word reminds us the power of God is available today.
2. Don't face challenges alone. As Archbishop Bishop Bob Duncan has said, 'Courage breeds courage.' We need each other to pray, process, and for encouragement and help. Get in a community group. Call a trusted Christian friend, a Christian counselor, talk to a member of staff, or contact the prayer team.
3. Commit your way to the Lord (Psalm 37: 5 - 6) Put faith in action by entrusting specific challenges into His hands and ask for the next "blue blaze" (trail marker) for you to see the way He is leading.
4. Spend time in worship: Worship fixes our hearts and minds on the greatness and power of God and off our own inadequacy to handle specific challenges. Listen to worship music of your choice, thank God for His power and attributes and faithfulness in the past. Pray the Psalms of Praise (145 is a good one).
5. Serve someone else in need. As we seek to serve others, we receive encouragement as we share encouragement and we sense God's power and love flowing through us. God has an amazing way of meeting us when we take our eyes off our selves and serve others.
6. Ask for more of God's Holy Spirit to equip, encourage, heal, teach, provide, give faith, and develop character in you during the times of challenge and discouragement.
7. Memorize 2 Corinthians 4: 17 - 18 "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."Why? Because God uses challenges for greater purposes than we can see in the moment.
As followers of Jesus Christ we can have confidence that the Lord will lead us through the challenges we face. And yet, will we trust Him and follow Him even when we can't see where He is leading? Remember: "Anything is possible for Him who believes."
- Trusting Jesus with you ~ David
About the ResBlog
Members of staff and Vestry will be posting on the ResBlog to help us think through who we are in light of the gospel so that we might “spur one another on to love and good deeds.”