Summary: In this sermon we learn how to move beyond the regrets and sins of our past.
Have you ever done something you later regretted; (or) have you missed an opportunity that you later regretted; (or) have you said something you later regretted? All of us know the pain of regrets. For some it could be the regret of a broken marriage. For some it could be the regret of an abortion. For some it could be the regret of a painful relationship. For some it could be the regret of a missed opportunity. For some it could be the regret of something you did. For some it could be the regret of something you said.
Illustration: Living above regrets is a worthy goal. “In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, ‘I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.’ When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers, after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. (Daily Bread, December 31, 1988. Contributed to Sermon Central by Mark Brunner)
All of us would like to live as William Borden. However, the truth is most of us have regrets that we must work through. The important issue is not our regrets. The important issue is moving beyond our regrets. How do you do it? Where do you start? What do you do? The Bible gives us help with this subject! Look at Philippians 3. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (vs. 13-15 NKJV)
If anyone had reason for regrets it was Paul. Before his conversion to Christ he had been a persecutor of the church. He had stood passively by while Stephen was stoned to death. He had been a thorn in the side of the early church. However, he came to faith in Christ and moved beyond his regrets. How did he do it? Paul teaches us three valuable lessons that helped him move beyond regret.
1. Lesson one: if you want to move beyond regret you must exercise Faith. In order for faith to benefit it must be exercised. Does an exercise program benefit if it is not carried out? Even so, faith does not benefit unless it is exercised.
A. Faith offers the possibility of a new start. Paul was given a fresh start by God. The Bible says “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Cor. 5:17; NKJV)
Illustration: It has been said “Though no one can go back and make a new beginning - anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.” (Carl Brand; Contributed by SermonCentral)
Illustration: I experienced a new beginning (of sorts) a few months ago. I had purchased a set of shelves from Home Depot. Assembly of the shelves seemed to be an easy task. I decided that I would not need instructions. After getting the shelves assembled I noticed that some shelves had an edge on the front while others did not. Obviously I had not assembled the shelves properly. In that moment I took the shelves apart and started over. The second time I used the instruction sheet. Life is like that. Many times we try working through problems, only to realize things did not turn out properly. It helps to go back to the instruction manual (God’s word) and start over. The beautiful part is that God gives us an opportunity to start over.
B. Faith offers us the possibility of a new start. However, it also offers us the possibility of being forgiven for our sins, mistakes and failures. There are some wonderful promises in the Bible concerning forgiveness. One of my favorites is found in Ps. 103:12. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (NKJV)