Because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we all sin and we all need second and third chances ad infinitum!
The story of Michael Vick is amazing. About ten years ago he finished serving 18 months in jail. When he got out of prison he was demoted to being a third-string quarterback and was one of the most hated men in America for torturing and killing dogs in a dog fighting ring. Once he was one of the most promising young quarterbacks in football. But he never had the discipline and passion to go with his enormous talent. Thus, his team, the Atlanta Falcons, never went far in the playoffs and never won a Super Bowl.
When he was arrested at the age of 27, he blew the remaining years of what was once a ten-year contract worth over $100 million. He had to serve almost two years in jail and had to prove himself all over again that he could still play as a starter in the NFL at the age of 30. Then in his second year back after imprisonment, he was one of the top candidates to win the MVP award, having led his team to the division title! Stories of redemption and forgiveness are the most powerful stories in the world!
Text: Isaiah 43:18-21
1. “Remember not the former things nor consider the things of old” (Isaiah 43:18).
There are many memories of pain and failure that live with us in the present and dictate our future. Did you know that a broken bone that has healed is stronger than it ever was before the break? God is telling us in this passage that He doesn’t want our past to determine our future.
Those who live in the past put limits on themselves and on God. A new year is a significant opportunity to move beyond our pain to our promise in Christ. We have all failed in many ways, whether it be as parents, spouses, business owners, children, ministers, etc.
Often the enemy tries to remind me of some of my biggest challenges and failures as a parent or minister to condemn me and hold me back from exerting faith to move forward in success! Some of you think you can never serve God again to the fullest because of your past failures! Our minds are conditioned by past habits and patterns. We often allow this neurological conditioning to determine our moods and our faith.
“The man who wins may have been counted out several times–but they didn’t hear the referee.”
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”
2. “Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)
God is always doing a new thing to meet the challenges of the day (John 5:17)! He is always active in the world and it is up to us to perceive what He is doing. We need to pray and get a hold of the plan of God and hear what the Spirit is saying to the church so we will be on point and hit the mark in our lives (John 8:31-32).
“Man is born to live and not to prepare to live.” -Boris Pasternak
“Progress always involves risk. You can never steal second if you keep your foot on first base.” -Frederick Wilcox
3. “I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
The difference between very successful and unsuccessful business people is that the successful see every problem as an opportunity to meet a need and make money, but unsuccessful people lament over every problem because they have conditioned themselves to be controlled by circumstances.
God loves challenges! This is why He says that He wants the just to live by faith and not by sight! Every challenge is an opportunity for God to give you a testimony!
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill
“We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.” -Margaret Mead
“The only way to discover the limits of the possible, is to go beyond them, into the impossible.” -Arthur C. Clarke
4. “The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise.” (Isaiah 43:20-21)
When wild beasts honor God it is a sign that even the simple-minded will be blessed when God moves. God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed because He formed us for His praise! We cannot bring Him praise when we turn back and end our lives as failures!
Let us commit ourselves to God afresh, keeping in step with Him with much prayer and church attendance and believe God to make a way where there is no way!
This article was originally published January 2011 and has been updated.
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