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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, January 22 2019

We would all like to get it right the first time….. The first marriage, the first job, the first child we raised, the first neighbor (You know…the yelling, screaming, nosey, dog barking, nasty, mean neighbor), How about the first meal we tried to cook… and on, and on…..

But we don’t always get it right the first time….If only I had a second chance, I wouldn’t have married who I married (Do not raise your hand if you value your life at all). If only I had a second chance, I wouldn’t have moved where I moved. If only I had a second chance, I would have finished school or college. If only I had a second chance, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the things that I was involved in. And you felt like, “I know I can still make this thing work”…if I only had another chance….

I don’t mean to be disrespectable, but Speaking of second chances, I heard that Old Fred had been a faithful Christian, in church every week, doing whatever was needed, and he was in the hospital, and his condition was declining. The family called their preacher and as the preacher stood next to the bed, Ol' Fred's condition appeared to deteriorate rapidly and he motioned for something to write on. The pastor handed him a pen and a piece of paper, and Ol' Fred used his last bit of energy to scribble a note, then suddenly passed away.

At the funeral, as the pastor was finishing the message, he realized that he still had Fred’s unread note in his pocket. He said, "You know, Ol' Fred handed me a note just before he died.  I haven't looked at it, but knowing Fred, I'm sure there's a word of inspiration there for us all."

He opened the note, and read, "Help!….. this fool is standing on my oxygen tube!" (Now there’s a pastor who would like a second chance and of course, Old Fred would like to have hadone too)!!!!

When I play golf there is an understanding that each person can claim a “Mulligan” on the front nine and another“Mulligan” on the back nine. There is one fairway on the Key west course that has Mulligan written all over it. From the tee, up to the green, there is nothing but water and mangroves, so I don’t get too frustrated on that hole, since I know my bad shot won’t show on my score card. I always use a throw away ball on that drive cause I know that when I take my best shotand don’t stick the green, I can walk up and drop the ball at the edge of the green, without a one stroke penalty on my game….

And when we look back over our life, at some of the situations that we have been involved in and some of the “bad shots”that we have made, we can be very thankful for Grace, for forgiveness, for restoration and for Second chances….(and for “Mulligans”)

Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve, because mercy means that God always desires compassion more than punishment and God’s justice is more insightful and far reaching than our self-condemnation and fear of failure.

One song says it well…. “It reaches to the highest mountain and flows to the lowest valley, Oh the blood that gives me strength from day to day, it shall never lose it’s power”…

Lamentations 3:22 “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions they fail not. v23 They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness. v24 For the LORD is my portion, and my soul knows very well, therefore will I hope in Him”. 

And yet, many folk’s lives will remain the same. They will continue groping and stumbling through life with no change in their attitudes, habits and life styles because they fail to realize that Christ can and will wipe away the old and bring in the new. He alone can give us a new start in life. He alone can give anyone a new beginning….. He has the “Mulligan” we all need…..

2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that if any man has believedand received Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. v18 And all things are now of God, who has restored us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of restoration…” 

Thank God, your future is not determined by your past. Your future is not determined by what you used to be or what you used to do…. It is determined by what He has done and what you do about what He has done. My dad, who lived as an atheist all of his life, accepted Christ the last week of his life and he got a new beginning, and a second chance!!

This present time is the sowing place for eternity and is loaded with the power of multiplication…. After all, Jesus told us, “give and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”

Those who practice the ministry of restoration with others today may find themselves needing restoration tomorrow. Those who have their burdens lifted today may be called to lift the burdens of others in the days to come. I have often said that the very one to whom you show mercy may be the only one – who in turn will show you mercy when you need it. No act of mercy ever falls to the ground without a return on the investment…. Mercy can have generational implications…..it may find its way to our family members, generations into the future, but it will always find its way.

John 8:3 “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, v4 They said unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. v5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do You say? v6 This they said, to trap him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. (sometimes you just have to tune out those voices) v7 So when they continued asking him, he stood up, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. v8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. v9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. v10 And when Jesus stood up, seeing no one but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? v11 She answered Him saying, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. 

Let me simplify this….Folks debate over what Jesus wrote…. Did he write the religious leaders’ names and sins, Did he quote the law which they were demanding and let them condemn themselves…. The truth is that everyone in the story, needed mercy and forgiveness, but the religious leaders were too self-righteous, so only the woman received it and heard the words “Neither do I condemn you”….. But notice that Jesus didn’t leave this open ended as though the woman could abuse His grace to sin again and again…. He said “Go and sin no more”…..

If you’ve been struggling with the same thing for years, and fighting the same battle with the same sin, for a decade…. It’s time to win it, get over it, just do it, and move on to another battle!!! Jesus won it and you’ve been fighting it too long!!!

Let me tell you today, the battle is about winning…. So don’t stop until you win! Get back up and finish this….. That’s what God is saying to some of us right now. Get up and do what I told you to do. You didn’t do it the first time I told you but now I’m gonna give you another chance. You fell short the first time, but now you get another chance. You let somebody stop you the first time, but now you get anotherchance. It’s time to take a mulligan!

We understand that Peter cursed and denied 3 times that he knew Jesus. Yet some 56 days later, it was Peter that God used to preach the message that brought 3,000 people into the kingdom of God in one meeting. Peter got another chance, because the Lord sees what we can be, not just what we’ve been…..

Wouldn’t it be great if students could take their final exam before graduation, and if they didn’t pass they could claim a mulligan…..

Wouldn’t it be great if you were hurrying home and got caught speeding and when the officer went to hand you a ticket, you claimed a mulligan….

Or, what if we forgot to pay our taxes, and the IRS called to attach our pay…and we could just claim our mulligan….

Now I’m not saying, we can just pretend it never happened… but God gives us the opportunity to make it right and move on.The car we hit is still dented and needs to be fixed…. Wrongs need to be righted and offences need to be dealt with… 

I read that the police stopped a teen-age girl in a city in Idaho. They had received complaints from folks in the neighborhood that a car had been seen going around the area in reverse for quite a long time. They located the vehicle going down a street backward, just as neighbors reported. When she was pulled over by the officer, the girl told police that her parents had let her use the car, but she had put too much mileage on it.  She said, she was driving backwards, because she was trying to unwind some of the milage. Well, in life we can’t hit rewind…. 

Thank God that His grace and mercy give us a clean slate to receive a second chance at getting it right….

Here are some Second chance quotes that I came across…..

Carl Bard….. Even though we can’t go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. 

Ritu Ghatourey…..Let Tomorrow be your second chance to prove that you are better than today and wiser than yesterday. John Wayne…. Every man deserves a second chance, but be sure to keep a close eye on him. –

Shinedown….Sometimes saying goodbye is giving yourself a second chance. –

Frank Tyger….Occasionally second chances means swallowing your pride, but at least It’s not fattening. -

Lailah Akita….Because we make mistakes doesn’t mean that’s who we are. We all need second chances.

1 Chronicles 16:34 “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good, for His mercy endures forever”.

My friend, that means, as long as you’re breathing and your heart is still beating, you have another chance! “We don’t have to live defeated.” We don’t have to live with regret anddiscouragement. Get back up to bat, another pitch is coming…. Get up, pray up, and show up, God isn’t done yet!If you shoot for the stars, and only hit the moon, that’s still pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

In the story of the prodigal son which is found in Luke 15… not only is it a story of second chances… but you can see plainly that the father went out to meet the son, before he ever came to his senses and decided to return home…. It says that the father went down the road every day looking for his son to return… That second chance was initiated by the father, long before the son even realized that it was there waiting for him….That tells me that God is faithful even when we are not….

The Lord is describing the heavenly Father in the story of the prodigal son, who went out to meet his wayward son before he even made the decision to come home! We are told that the prodigal sat in the pig pin rehearsing a speech he never got to give, because the father was so quick to welcome him back, forgive him and receive him.  

Jesus describes this compelling grace which moves forth in advance, and causes the shepherd to leave the 99 sheep that are safe to go out in search of the one sheep that he knows is headed for trouble and has become lost and in peril….

Isn’t that what Isaiah 65:24 is telling us? “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear”.

God was faithful even when Abraham and Sarah had no faith. They finally received their promised child, Isaac. 

Before we come to God seeking forgiveness and before we even think that we need God’s grace – God is out there searching for us. God is setting the stage and creating opportunities for us to see, understand and receive it….He not only knows what we are and what we did, He knows what we can be and what we can do…..

While running from his past out in the desert, Moses collided with his purpose….While Jonah was running from his fears, he found his faith….While Peter was fighting being labeled, he found his identity….While Paul was killing Christians, he became an apostle….Thomas in his doubt, found the one it was all about….

A poor woman from the slums of London was invited to go with a group of people she worked for on their vacation at the ocean.  She had never been to the ocean before, and when she saw it, she started crying. Those around her thought it strange that she would cry after such an enjoyable holiday had been provided for her. One of them asked her why she was crying.  Pointing to the ocean, between sobs, she answered, “This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was more than enough of.” WOW! We should be overcome with the same emotions as we see our Heavenly Father for who He truly is….We have a more than enough God…. His grace, His mercy, His Love and compassion are more than enough…..

If our greatest need was knowledge and education, Jesus would have come as a professor…. If the answer to life was good health, Jesus would have come as a dietician or aerobics instructor…. If our greatest need was in a pill, Jesus would have come as a pharmacist…. If our greatest need was technology, Jesus would have come as a computer programeror technician….. If our greatest need was money, Jesus would have come as an investment consultant…. If our greatest need had been pleasure, Jesus would have come as an entertainer or cruise director… But Jesus was not all these things because our greatest need was forgiveness and mercy, so God sent to us a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!!!!   

Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:13 & 14 “But this one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and focusing on what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me ever higher in Christ Jesus.”

His mercy is more than enough…. His forgiveness is more than enough….His grace is more than enough…. His love is more than enough… His power and His amazing plan for our lives is way more than enough…..Hallelujah!  

Prayer of agreement ……

“Thank You, Father, for second chances and that You desireabove all things that I prosper and be in health even as my soul prospers. Thank you  for this amazing plan You have for my life. I believe as I trust, rely upon, and remain steadfast in Your Word and guidance that I shall make my way prosperous and have good success. You have promised that as a doer of the Word I will be blessed in all of my deeds. I am assured that You will withhold no good thing from me. Through Your salvation, I have been delivered from the control and dominion of darkness and I am positioned in the kingdom of light. I have been raised together with Christ and am seated together with Him. Sin, no longer has dominion over me, but It has been placed under my feet, in the Name of Jesus, 

I thank You, Father, that You have not given me a spirit of cowardice, intimidation, or fear. I declare that I have received the spirit of power and love and of a sound, well balanced mind, of discipline and self control. You, Lord, are the refuge and the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?  I desire to do Your will, 0 Lord. Nothing shall offend me or make me stumble, for I do not yield myself to the power of those things, for I walk in the peace of God that passes all understanding. I am invigorated and strengthened with all power by Your Spirit to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance and forbearance with joy. 

I cannot fail, for by Your grace and mercy I am provided every opportunity necessary to plant the seeds for eternal harvest as I accomplish your will. I desire to be the instrument of your mercy and blessing, wherever I go and whatever I do. May I help others to receive a positive faith filled outcome and stand in Your authority over any stronghold of lack, insufficiency, or infirmity, in Jesus’ name. I receive the good work which You began in me and I yield myself to You that it will continue, right up to the time of Your return, when I shall be received with Your Church into heaven, to be with You forever. in Jesus' Name.   Amen.

Pastoral Prayer……

In the Name of Jesus Christ, may you be blessed to enter into the promises of God, which are “yea and amen”. May you be blessed with health and strength in body, mind and spirit to move in faith and expectancy. May God’s angels be with you to protect you and keep you. May you be blessed with ears to hear His voice, steps that are ordered by the Lord, hands that are extended to those in need, and a heart that is receptive to one another and to the things of God. May your mind be strong, disciplined, balanced and faith-filled. May God’s grace be upon your home, as a sanctuary of rest and, renewal, a haven of peace where sounds of joy and laughter fill up its walls, where love and unconditional acceptance for one another is always present. May the blessing of success and prosperity in your business and places of labor be your portion as you acknowledge the Lord and put Him first. May goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your long life.The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Receive Hisblessing in Jesus’ Name.

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