RISING FROM THE ASHES OF FAILURE & DEFEAT

If you’re laboring under a heavy weight of condemnation, rejection, and unworthiness because you’ve fallen, failed, and sinned against the Lord, this blog is for you. Though it’s your heart’s desire to be faithful to the Lord and walk with Him, you’re not quite sure if the Lord has forgiven you or if the Lord even wants you back. You can recite the Scriptures and the promises of God’s forgiveness, but somehow you’ve come to believe that maybe these promises don’t apply to you. Unbeknownst to you, the Devil has worked you over and through his own doings you’ve come to believe that God hasn’t forgiven you. He’s rejected you. And all you can do is hope that with good behavior and good works God will somehow change His mind about you, forgive you, and receive you back into His love and favor. This weight of condemnation, rejection, and unworthiness is a heavy load that you bear. It’s brought you a lot of torment, grief, and tears. And in God’s love for you, He’s come today to relieve you of that weight, free you from that torment, and bring peace and joy to your soul. As a prophetic word from the Lord, God still loves you, He’s forgiven you, and He wants you to come back to Him. All you have to do, dear friends, is believe and receive God’s love and forgiveness. Let’s look to the Scriptures for encouragement. Mark 14:17-31 is a good place to start. You can read the passage from your Bible now. The air is filled with heaviness as Jesus has just announced that one of his apostles would betray Him. In just a few hours Jesus would be arrested. Before the light of morning came He would be tried and condemned to death by the Great Sanhedrin. By noon Jesus would be nailed to a cross. And by mid afternoon–15 hours from this scene in the upper room–He would be dead. The apostles are shocked. With the exception of the betrayer, all of them are in disbelief that one of them would actually betray the Lord. To add to their shocked disbelief, Jesus predicts that every last one of them without exception would stumble, fall, and fail the Lord. Peter and the rest of the apostles object strenuously and vehemently. In their great love for the Lord, they would never–not in a million years–deny the Lord. We pick the story up in Luke 22:31-34. Luke 22:31a, And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you. Literally in the Greek, Satan has asked and petitioned to have you. You see, before the Devil can work you over he first has to ask God’s permission to do it. And if God doesn’t give him permission, the Devil can’t lay a hand on you. In Peter’s case, Satan has petitioned God to have Peter in his hands. That’s kind of a frightful thought. To be taken out of God’s loving, protecting hands, and be placed in the clutches of Satan’s hateful, hurting hands. What does the Devil want with us? Luke 22:31b, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. As many of you know, wheat grows naturally encased in chaff. Before it can be ground or used, the chaff has to be removed. Rice is the same way. Over in the Philippines where I have some roots, after the rice is harvested it would be spread out in the open on huge cement floors where the sun would dry the rice. And as the rice dried, the chaff would break open even more, making it easier to separate the chaff from the rice. Out in the country, Filipinos would buy rice still mixed with chaff because that’s the cheapest kind of rice that you can buy. Now every household would have a basket-like platter that was woven with coconut leaves. It was big around, slightly concave in the middle, with a rim on it. If you can imagine a 30″ cake pan made of woven coconut leaves you’ll have a fairly good idea of what these rice pans were like. Several handfuls of rice would be placed in the pan and, with a flick of the wrist and hands, you’d flip the front side of the pan upwards in such a way that the rice would be thrown in the air. Because the rice was heavier than the chaff, it would land back down in the pan first. And once the rice lands in the pan, you’d move the whole pan back and away so that the chaff would fall to the ground. You’d shake the pan a few times and get the rice moving around toward the front of the pan. Then, with another flick of the wrists, you’d flip the pan upwards again to get more of the chaff out. You’d do this several times until the chaff was all out. Anyways, this is what Satan wanted to do with Peter. He wanted to put Peter in this rice pan, flip him up and down, then when he landed, swirl him round and round. Wait a minute. Satan’s not done yet. He’ll flip Peter up and down again, then swirl him round and round some more. By the time Satan is done with Peter, the hapless chap would be stunned and dazed, wondering what hit him or what in the world happened to him. Now a parent’s first inclination is to shelter and protect their child from being sifted in this fashion. But God allows Satan to get ahold of Peter. And it’s not going to be nice or pleasant for Peter. Peter is going to suffer a lot of heartache because of it. There’s going to be a lot of pain, anguish, tears, and regrets. Wow. This sounds an awful lot like where you’re at today. Not to worry. We all can relate because we all have been there. We’ve all been mired in the muck and torment of condemnation, rejection, and unworthiness. We’ve all fallen and missed the Lord too. Anyways, the Lord allows Satan to get his hands on Peter and sift him–not because our God is cruel or sadistic. Not because He derives pleasure in watching us suffer. No. God allows Satan to sift Peter because He knows that before the rice can be used the chaff must first be removed. For gold to have its highest value it must first be purged of its impurities. For silver to be valued and used it must first be purged of its dross. To become a better Christian you must first be tried: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers trials; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4). Job 23:10 reads, But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. So in order for Peter to become a better Christian he’s going to have to be tried. And as trials sometimes go, Peter is going to know the heartache of failure and defeat. Luke 22:32a, But I have prayed for thee. Do you think the Lord doesn’t care about you? Friends, even when the Lord knows you’re going to sin or fall, He still prays for you! Wow! Did you read that? He still prays for you! Brethren, there’s no rejection in that. Jesus’ love and concern for you is written all over the prayer He’s praying for you. What’s He praying for? Luke 22:32b, that thy faith fail not. Literally, that you won’t quit believing. You see, when you’ve fallen it’s a real temptation to turn your back on the Lord and quit believing Him. You feel as if the Lord has failed you, He hasn’t kept His promise, things didn’t turn out the way you thought they would. You’re tempted to quit believing the Lord and the promises. Jesus, beloved, is praying that you’ll keep on believing in spite of everything that’s happened. Sometimes we quit believing in ourselves. You see, when Peter denied the Lord, the Lord didn’t make him do that. Peter denied the Lord on his own free will. It was Peter–not Jesus–who failed. And when you’re totally sold out to the Lord you take failure pretty hard. You’re hard on yourself. You’re merciless, you’re brutal, with yourself. You find it hard to forgive yourself. You consider yourself an utter failure, undeserving of the Lord’s love, mercies, or forgiveness. You’re not worthy of a second chance…or so you think. You’re cutting yourself off from the Lord. You’re the one doing that. The Lord isn’t cutting you off. You’ve given up on yourself. You’ve quit believing in yourself. You’ve quit believing that you can be a faithful, totally-committed, Christian once again. You’ve quit believing that there’s any hope or future with you and God. You’re living out the rest of your life just waiting for God to either kill you or damn you. And all the time you’re beating up on yourself, Jesus is praying for you. Praying that you won’t give up on yourself. You won’t give up on Him. Luke 22:32c, and when thou art converted. The word converted here doesn’t mean to get saved again. Rather, it means to restore to a previous condition. Peter, you’re going to be tested and you’re going to fall, and fall down hard. But I’m praying for you. And, by God’s grace, you’re going to repent and get back up on your feet. And when you do, we’re going to continue walking together just like before. But it’s not just about you and Me, Peter. Luke 22:32d, and when thou art restored, strengthen thy brethren. Your brethren need you. The people of God need you. I’m sending you to them and you’re going to be a blessing to them and help them. Luke 22:33, And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. Of all the apostles, none was more committed and dedicated to the Lord than Peter. He had no idea that he would ever fail the Lord. That was the farthest thing from his mind. The thought never even entered or crossed his mind. Peter was intent on being faithful to the Lord even if it killed him. His heart was like so many of ours today. We want to be faithful. We’re going to be faithful. No what matter! I Corinthians 10:12, Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Allow me to use this scene in the life of Peter to blog five things to you by way of warning as well as encouragement. 1. WE’RE CAPABLE OF DOING THINGS WE NEVER THOUGHT OR IMAGINED WE WOULD DO.  Peter was so intent on being faithful to the Lord–even unto death–that the thought of being fearful or cowardly never even entered his mind. He never imagined–in all of his wildest imagination–that he would ever deny the Lord. That would simply never happen! But it did! And it’s ample testimony to us that, even in our great love for the Lord, we’re capable of doing the unthinkable, the unlikely, and the unimaginable when we’re in the heat of the trial and are sorely put to the test. You see, what we intend to do–that is, be faithful–and what we end up doing are two different things. Just because you want to be faithful doesn’t automatically mean you’ll end up being faithful. The desire or intention is noble, for which you are to be commended. But what are you doing to make sure you don’t end up doing  the things you never imagined or intended to do? 2. IT TAKES A TRIAL TO EXPOSE YOU AND PERFECT YOU.  Peter never imagined that he would deny the Lord because, as far as he was concerned, he was as fearless and as loyal as they come. But unbeknownst to him, fear was present and latent in him. He didn’t know it was there. And it took this trial of sifting to expose this serious flaw in him. You see, Peter didn’t know he was fearful until the trial came along and exposed it to him. Peter failed–not because he was faithless, doubtful, or unbelieving. Not because he wasn’t totally sold out or committed to the Lord. To the contrary, he failed because he was fearful. Brethren, if you want to be faithful to the very end, no matter what, be it a physical trial, a sexual temptation, a financial enticement, or the brutal pains of persecution; you’ve first got to get rid of fear. Don’t assume you don’t have it. Don’t assume you’ve gotten rid of it. Assume nothing. Face it head on and get rid of fear. Like Peter and the hidden fear that he didn’t know he had, we, too, are faced with flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections. Some of these we recognize and admit to. But some we deny and refuse to admit we have. Beloved, it takes the trial, the trouble, the temptation; to reveal these hidden flaws in us. The trying of our faith is meant not only to bring these flaws to light, but more so, to get us to deal with them and bring us farther along the road to Christian maturity and virtue. Now that Peter knew what he had to deal with, he dealt with it. It didn’t get  done in a single day. It took some time. But years later when it came time for him to either deny the Lord or die acknowledging Him in the presence of  his persecutors, Peter stayed true to the Lord and he died faithful, not fearful. The trial you went through, that caused you to stumble, dear brethren, was not meant to keep you down in the dumps or in the valley of despair. It was meant to show you what you have to deal with so that you can deal with it and be rid of it, so that it won’t trip you up again. 3. JESUS IS PRAYING FOR YOU.   A third thing of tremendous comfort and consolation to us is the fact that, unbeknownst to us, Jesus is praying for us. He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). He knows we’ll fail, grieve, shame, and disappoint Him. He could just as easily leave us and damn us. But He will not quit loving us! He will not let us go! He prays for our repentance and restoration. Do you know what all these things tell us? It tells us that God is interested in saving us, not damning us. The full text of the verse that I just alluded to reads thus, Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Brethren, Jesus will not quit loving you. He will not quit praying for you. 4. IT’S POSSIBLE TO BOUNCE BACK FROM DEFEAT AND GO ON WITH THE LORDDespite how grievous, shameful, or inexcusable our failure may be, we nevertheless see in Jesus’ words to Peter the hope of ultimate restoration. I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted. Brethren, there’s hope for you after a fall. Failure doesn’t have to end in rejection, condemnation, or damnation. Jesus extends to you the hope of restoration. Which is to say, it’s possible to bounce back from defeat. You can get up from a fall. And you can come back to the Lord. God doesn’t cut you off and disown you when you fail Him. He didn’t do it for Peter and He’s not going to do it for you. God, brethren, isn’t interested in damning you, but rather, saving you. He’s a merciful, forgiving God. He wants you back! He’s praying that you’d come back! Now the hope of restoration carries with it your responsibility to confess your sin, repent, and ask God to forgive you. 1 John 1:9 tells us, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Brethren, when you confess your sins to God, God’s justice demands that He forgives you. When you come repentantly to Him, seeking His forgiveness, you will get it! He will forgive you! He will not leave you or your sin unforgiven! Aside from the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, there is no sin that you have committed that God will not forgive–if you are repentant. His justice demands His forgiveness. And He forgives because that’s His will, His heart, His desire for you. Hebrews 4:15-16 reads, For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of  grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Brethren, when you come to the Lord seeking His mercy, His help, and His forgiveness, you will find it! You will obtain! No sin will be left unforgiven. No one–including you–will remain unforgiven, rejected, and condemned by God. Brethren, if you’ve repented of your sins, confessed them, and asked God to forgive you; then you need to know that God forgave you at that very moment. You’re forgiven right now. God’s accepted you. And He doesn’t stand in condemnation of you. You stand forgiven. If you’re still condemned, it’s the Devil who’s condemning you. Quit believing that rascal! Take God at His word, receive His forgiveness, come back to the Lord, and go on walking with Him. 5. GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE HASN’T CHANGED.  Lastly, I see here in Jesus’ words to Peter the encouraging fact that, WHEN YOU RETURN AND ARE RESTORED TO THE LORD AFTER A FALL THE LORD WANTS YOU TO CARRY ON THE WORK THAT HE’S GIVEN YOU TO DO.  Jesus said, and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.   You see, Peter had a job to do as an apostle for the Lord. When he recovered and returned from his fall he was still an apostle, he still had a job to do, and perhaps most surprisingly to some of us, Jesus wanted him to do it. Peter’s fall didn’t leave him as a spiritual has-been. It didn’t disqualify him from continuing to be an apostle. He didn’t quit being an apostle. God didn’t take his apostolic calling, office, ministry, and anointing away!  Many of us would have stripped Peter of his apostolic calling or ministry. We would have disqualified him from being an apostle. We would have retired him and put him out to pasture. But the Lord didn’t!  Jesus kept him as an apostle and He gave him a job to do. Do you see what I’m saying? Peter’s sin didn’t rob him of his ministry. Jonah’s disobedience didn’t disqualify him from continuing to be a prophet. God held on to both of these servants, He dealt with them, brought them to repentance, forgave them, then sent them right back to the job that He gave them to do. God, dear friend, is no respecter of persons! He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever! Brethren, GOD GAVE YOU A JOB TO DO AND WHEN YOU FELL YOUR SIN DIDN’T RELIEVE YOU OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DO, AND FINISH, THAT JOB. WHEN GOD GAVE YOU THE GIFT OF REPENTANCE HE DIDN’T TAKE AWAY FROM YOU THE GIFT, MINISTRY, OR CALLING THAT HE GAVE YOU. WHEN YOU FELL, GOD DIDN’T CHANGE HIS MIND ABOUT YOU DOING THE JOB THAT HE GAVE YOU TO DO. HE STILL WANTS YOU TO DO IT!  So do it! So how do you rise from the ashes of failure and defeat? (1) Believe in God’s steadfast love for you and His forgiveness. He’s already forgiven you! (2) Receive His forgiveness and acceptance. Quit doubting and rejecting it. Quit listening to, and believing, the Devil’s lies. And (3) get up and go on. Find your footing. Take one step at a time. Revive your prayer life and communion with the Lord. Start reading and studying your Bible again. Go to church. Fellowship with spiritually-minded brethren. Do these things and you’ll soon begin to experience the joy and peace of God’s salvation.  Beloved, may God give you the courage and grace to get up, get right, and get busy doing the Lord’s will. May God bless you richly to this end!

5 Comments

  1. Nancy Ludden said,

    May 26, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Wow, Thanks, Gaylord!!!! We have all be awaiting this. I will appreciate it now . . . and in times to come. Thank you again . . . . so much! Nancy

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      May 28, 2010 at 8:31 AM

      You’re welcome Nancy. Thus far, the Lord has led me to post a new sermon every two weeks or thereabouts. I’ll probably post personal musings or reflections of my life in-between sermons. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  2. Dave Gardner said,

    May 26, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    Nice! Excellent post… and applicable to many of us! Glad to see you’ve gotten on the WordPress experience. Best regards, Dave

  3. Kathy Marsico said,

    May 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Thank you, Gaylord – we often need to be reminded of our purpose here, and why we sometimes stumble. Its not the fall that is the problem – it is the failure to get up and forge ahead. My relationship with God becomes much stronger each time I pull myself up and reassert my belief in God and try to live as He wants me to.

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      May 28, 2010 at 8:28 AM

      What a keen and insightful comment, Kathy. So glad to see you persevere in your walk with God and forge ahead despite whatever setbacks come your way. If you’d ever like to share a prayer request with me, don’t hesitate to let me know.


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