Summary: Since God is full of grace, life do-overs are possible. Humility is the only pre-requisite.
There have been a few times in my life where I’ve wanted a do-over.
• The time I wrote an “anonymous” love note to a girl in junior high, only to have her figure it out and tell one of my worst enemies.
• The time I locked my knees in my wedding ceremony and almost fainted.
• The time I asked a friend how her mother was doing, when I had sung at her funeral a year earlier!
These are just embarrassing moments that I’d like to have a second chance at. But what about the more important times in our lives when we’ve messed up.
• Maybe we’ve fallen into an adulterous relationship, bringing disastrous consequences upon our family.
• Maybe we’ve broken promises to God that we would break that nasty habit.
• Maybe our anger has gotten us into trouble again at work or at home.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just yell “do-over” and get a chance to do it again? If everything that happened in your life was written on a white board, wouldn’t it be great if you could just walk up and erase the board, and make it clean again?
I’ve got good news for you. God specializes in do-overs.
• He can take a broken life and set it straight again.
• He can take a hopeless situation and infuse it with hope.
• He can offer perfect love and forgiveness to people who have broken their promises over and over.
• He is the God of the do-over.
As we celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight, and the beginning of a new year tomorrow, I want to bring you good news. No matter what has happened in your past, Jesus Christ can make you new – he can give you a do-over.
If you doubt it, listen to these scriptures about God’s heart of forgiveness:
Matt. 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Luke 17:3-5 “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
And you and I chime in with the apostles, “Increase our faith!” because we can’t fathom that type of forgiveness. We can understand forgiving someone 7 times. But 77 times? Or 7 times in one day? Come on! But this is God’s heart. God heart is so wide and so loving that he can and does forgive everyone who comes to him asking for his forgiveness. And he doesn’t keep track of how many times it has happened, either.
If I were required to forgive someone multiple times in one day, I can tell you that by the end of the day I might be mouthing words of forgiveness, but my attitude would not be so great. The amazing thing about God is that even though he knows in the most intimate detail how we fail him – he is still so happy when we come back to him. How do we know this?
In Luke chapter 15, you can read 3 stories, placed back to back to back for emphasis, that communicate the grace-full heart of God. In stories about a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a wayward, rebellious child, there is one picture that stands out: the image of God as jumping-up-and-down-happy over the return of one of his children to his care.
Let me read the first 2 of those stories from the Bible:
Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”