Summary: Throughout the Bible, God offers person after person a second chance. He’s offering you a second chance. Use it faithfully.
As people came into the sanctuary they were asked to take a stone from pails of stones. Immediately following the sermon, they were invited to come forward to place the stone representing their sin at the foot of the cross.
I also took 8-1/2 by 11 sheets with a name for each Biblical person, taped the sheets together like old dot matrix printer paper. When I made the point the there are many people in the Bible to whom God gave a second chance, I dropped the sheets holding onto the first sheet. It got a great laugh and engaged everyone in wondering who all those stories were about.
The God of Second Chances
The Reverend Anne Benefield
Geneva Presbyterian Church, September 7, 2008
Introduction: The story of the woman caught in adultery has always moved me with compassion. Nothing quite signifies grace as well. It makes me pause because it is so profound. We seldom see ourselves as sinful. Most of us will not be unfaithful to our spouses, but as we quickly rationalize that we aren’t sinful, I believe that we can be missing the deeper meaning of the story. In the barest reading of this story, a sinful person is brought before Jesus by the establishment. That establishment intends that this person be punished to the extent that there can be no second chance, no chance for redemption. But Jesus is the Lord of the second chance. In Jesus, we are always given a second chance. I believe we are given second chances right up to those pearly gates.
Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test Him, so that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. What they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to the, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again He bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Prayer: Forgiving God, Help us to understand our need for grace. As we hear the stories of your grace, let us hear our own stories. Remind us that sometimes we are the sinner and sometimes we are the judge. Guide us to be gracious in either case with the confidence in You, the God of second chances. Amen.
You may be wondering why I have called God the “Lord of Second Chances.” It’s really quite simple; God is the Lord of Second Chances. God gives second chances throughout the Bible. And every time that God gives a second chance that means God is willing to give us a second chance. Let’s begin at the beginning:
The first people, Adam and Eve, ate of the forbidden fruit. Then they lied about it to God. I was thinking that this was the first attempted cover up, which included an attempt to cover themselves completely! But remember, God gave them a second chance. They didn’t die. Their circumstances were different, but they lived.
The question for us is when have we done just what our consciences told us not to? And how did we try to cover it up? God has given you a second chance. Use it faithfully.
Even Noah, God’s beloved who was faithful when all were sinning, but he made a mistake later. When he drank too much, God gave him a second chance. Has there been a time when you drank or ate too much and possibly made dangerous choices? God is giving you a second chance. Use it faithfully.
How about Abraham and Sara? They were faithful most of the time, but at least three times, Abraham questioned God, expressing his doubt. Sara even laughed when the angel told her, again, that she would have a child. Then she lied and said she didn’t laugh. Have you noticed how often we try to cover up our mistakes? Despite their doubts and questioning, God gave them a series of second chances and their son, Isaac. God is giving you a second chance. Use it faithfully.