The part of the chapter that I wanted to focus on is beginning in verse number 26. Let me just bring you up to speed in the story here. This is the famous story, of course, about the children of Israel having come out of the land of Egypt. They come to the brink of the Promised Land and they send in the 12 spies to check out the land. They weren't supposed to be going in to decide whether they're going to do it or not, or whether they could do it or not. They'd already been commanded to do it. This was the whole purpose of the journey. They were just supposed to go there and plan things and, basically, just scope it out, do reconnaissance. Of course, 10 of those spies come back and bring an evil report saying that they couldn't do it because the inhabits of the land were too strong and they weren't going to be able to defeat them. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, came back, and they had faith, and they tried to rally the people, but the people turned against them and so forth.
If we pick up in verse 26 the Bible says, And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron saying, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me. I have heard the murmurings of the Children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, 'As truly as I live, sayeth the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears so will I do to you.
Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I swear to make you dwell therein, save Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun, but your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in and they shall know the land which ye have despised, but as for you, your carcasses they shall fall in this wilderness, and your children shall wander in the wilderness 40 years and bear your whoredoms until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness, after the number of the days in which ye search the land even 40 days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even 40 years and ye shall know my breech of promise. I the Lord have said I will surely do it until all this evil congregation that are gathered together against me in the wilderness. They shall be consumed and there they shall die.'"
The men which Moses sent to search the land who returned and made all the congregation to murmur against him by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plaque before the Lord. Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land lived still. God is very angry and upset and He pronounces judgment upon them and says, "Because you refused to obey my voice, because you lack faith, and because you have this doom and gloom idea that you're all going to die in the wilderness," He says, "Well, guess what, you are all gonna die in the wilderness, and I'm not going to allow you to go into the Promised Land because of your unbelief, but your children will go into the Promised Land, but first you and they both are gonna have to wander around for 40 years," and He said, "Everyone who is 20 years old and upward will be dead by the time you go into the Promised Land 40 years from now."
Then, the sign whereby the people knew that this was the Word of the Lord is that the 10 spies who brought back the wrong report they died immediately of a plague. They all died, and Caleb and Joshua did not die. When the people see this they bethink themselves-
If you would go to Deuteronomy, chapter number one. We'll flip over to Deuteronomy one. We already read the whole chapter of Numbers 14 before the sermon started, so we might as well get another angle of this from Deuteronomy, chapter number one. Deuteronomy, chapter number one, beginning in verse 32, the Bible tells us the same story in a more abbreviated format. "Yet in these-
I'm sorry, verse 32, "Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, 'surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.'
Also, the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, 'Thou also shalt not go in thither, but Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.'"
Now, God tells them, "You can't go into the Promised Land. You're gonna wander for 40 years. Your children are gonna have to go in, but in the meantime you need to now head for the Red Sea. God had a different direction for them to go. He had a plan for them going forward, even after this great failure, and He tells them to head for the Red Sea. Now, they disobeyed that. It says in verse 41. "Then ye answered and said unto me, 'We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God commanded us.'" Basically, they think that it's not too late to still obey and to go in and take the promise. "Oh, we're sorry that we doubted it. We see that the 10 spies died. We're ready to do right now. Let's just forget about this whole lack of faith thing, and let's just go in and do it," now that they've seen more of God's power.
Halfway through verse 41, "And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill, and the Lord said unto me, 'Say unto them, go not up, neither fight, for I am not among you, lest ye be smitten before your enemies. So I spake unto you and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, and went presumptuously up into the hill, and the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you and chased you as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah, and ye returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you, so ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there. Then we turned," chapter 2, verse 1. "Then we turned and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days," and the story goes on and on.
Now, the title of my sermon tonight is this, God's Plan B For Our Lives. God's plan B For Our Lives. You see, even when we mess up our lives, even when we commit a major sin and do irreparable damage to our lives as believers, God still has a plan B for our lives. It's not that we should just throw in the towel and say, "Well, my whole purpose in life was to go into the Promised Land. God told me, 'I'm never gonna make it. I'm never gonna accomplish that, so I might as well just quit even serving the Lord. Why even obey Him? Why even follow Him? Why not just live a worldly life and forget about the whole thing?'" No, because God still wants to use us and God still has a plan B for our lives.
Now, if you think about the Children of Isreal in this story. Let's say that they had just thrown in the towel after this major failure, and this is a pretty big failure. I mean, they've been in bondage in Egypt. The whole reason why they left Egypt was to cross the wilderness and go into a Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. No more slavery. No more oppression. We can actually sit down and own our own land and be under our own vine and our own fig tree. Now, they're just going to wander around in the desert for the rest of their lives. God's telling them, "You're gonna spend 40 years in the desert." You can see how this would be discouraging and depressing to think, "We will never succeed at God's perfect will for our lives. We've already missed that boat, and even when we tried to do it, God said, 'I'm not gonna bless you,' and we failed."
You see, God always has a plan B for our lives. Now, of course, He would prefer us to stay on plan A, but many people in this room tonight are far from plan A or have veered off from plan A. All of us in some areas of our life have failed, and we have missed out on God's perfect will for our lives and we've missed out on blessings that He had for us, but no one should get the idea that it's too late for them or that there's no use even trying anymore, because they've just completely blown it, because God does have a plan B.
Think about this, what if the Children of Isreal had just thrown in the towel and said, "You know what, I give up. I'm a failure to God. I'm a total loser. Why don't I just quit serving God, and why don't I just maybe go back to Egypt and just turn myself in? Why don't I just go find some other group of people that I could join up with and live with them and just forsake the tabernacle of the congregation, forsake Moses, forsake the Children of Israel?"
If you think about it, God's plan B for their lives was that they would raise their children to fear the Lord and go into the Promised Land. Think about it. How can the children grow up and go into the Promised Land 40 years from now if they didn't have parents that were rearing them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You see, there was a plan B for their lives where they were gonna be the ones that would raise the children, teach their children, train their children to be a generation that would have faith and do it right, unlike their parents who had blown it. They still had purpose and meaning in their lives in rearing those children.
Not only that, God had other plans and blessings in store for them. He takes them to the Red Sea. They wander here. They wander there. God had a plan for them, also, to defeat Og and [Sihon 00:10:12] the kings of Bashan. He had a plan for them to defeat those kings and to inherit that land for the Children of Israel. God had a land for them. God had a blessing for them. God had something for them, even though it wasn't plan A for their lives.
Obviously, there are a lot of stories about this. If you would, flip over to Psalm 51. There are a lot of stories in the Bible about this. I'll just mention a few other stories in passing. What about the story of the woman at the well? This was a woman who had really messed up her life. The Bible says that she had actually been married to five different husbands, and at the time that Jesus met her she was living with a dude that wasn't even her husband, and she'd already had five husbands. That's a pretty messed up life. That's not God's plan for anybody's life.
Even the world would look at that and say, "Wow, that's a pretty messed up life." Yet, God wasn't through with her. God had a plan B for her life. God used her in a great way. Jesus came and met her and she ended up preaching the gospel to a lot of people, bringing a lot of people to Jesus, and Jesus still loved her and cared about her, and wanted to talk to her at the well, and made a point to preach unto her the gospel, and so forth. Maybe that's you tonight. Maybe you're one who's been divorced multiple times, or maybe you're one who has made a lot of mistakes in your past that you can't undo, where you've done irreparable damage to your life, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't have a plan B for your life. That doesn't mean that you should think that you have no place in His plan and in His work, or that you have no place in our church, because there is a place for you. There is a role for you to play.
Now, there are consequences to our actions. For example, if you're one who's been divorced then, obviously, the office of being a pastor or a deacon is not for you, because the Bible has a specific criteria there for a bishop or a deacon, that he has to be the husband of one wife, and one that ruleth well his own house, that has faithful children not accused or riot or unruly. God has said that that door is closed for you, but does that mean that there's nothing for you to do. No, there's lots of other things that you could do to serve God as a plan B for your life. It's a dangerous thing when people commit a great sin and they think that it's all over and they think about just throwing in the towel.
Now, here's another example of a guy who really messed up his life. The Children of Israel, they blew it big time. They screwed up their lives and had to spend the rest of the time just wandering in the desert. Well, David, he really messed up his life, too, because David had everything going for him. God's blessing him. He's the king of Israel, and he ended up committing adultery with Bathsheba, and then he compounds his sin by then having her husband killed to try to cover up what he had done, because of the fact that she was pregnant. When he's confronted with the man of God telling him that he's done wrong, he's sorry and he repents, and in Psalm 51 we see David's prayer unto God where he wants to continue to live for God. He wants to continue to serve God. He's not going to quit just because he screwed up. He's going to get back up and do it again.
The Bible says in Proverbs 24, verse 16, "For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again, but the wicked shall fall into mischief." If you fall into sin. If you commit sin, you fall off the wagon of whatever it is that you've turned away from in your life, don't ever get the attitude that says, "Well, you know what, now that I have failed God, now that I have committed this great sin, now that I have, you know, just completely given into temptation what's the use? I might as well just quit. I might as well just give up. Why do I even go to church. Why even go to soul winning. God can't use me." That is the wrong attitude. You've got to get back up, confess, and forsake that sin and get right back into the battle. Have you done irreparable damage to your life? I hope not, but many things that you do will cause irreparable damage to your life.
You young people, if you go out and commit fornication you are going to do irreparable damage to your life, irreparable damage to your testimony. Those who would commit an even worse sin of going out and committing adultery, you're doing irreparable damage to your life. If you commit murder, if you commit other horrible sins or horrible crimes, you are going to face consequences for those things, but don't ever get to the place where you feel that God has nothing for you. If you are saved, if you are a child of God and you are still on this earth breathing air then God still has something for you to do. Otherwise, He would just take you home. As long as you're on this earth, and as long as you're breathing, then God has something for you to do.
Now, are there people out there that are unsaved that get to a point where God is through with them and they're just reprobate unto him? Of course, but we as God's children we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He's promised us, "I'll never leave thee nor forsake thee," and He's told us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing is able to separate us, and that we always have work that He has for us to do. Even if it's not His first choice He has a plan B for our lives where we can continue to serve Him in a different capacity, perhaps, but we can continue to serve Him all the time.
Even a guy like Samson, and we'll get to Psalm 51 in a moment, but even a guy like Samson. Here's a guy who really messed up his life. I mean, here's a guy who is raised by godly parents, God gives him this great gift where he has this supernatural strength, and he's supposed to use it to defeat the Philistines, and to judge the Children of Israel, and to free them from their oppressors. What does he end up doing with his life? Well, he ends up, basically, just chasing skirts and just keeps giving in to the flesh and going after fornication, and he's with a prostitute here and he's fornicating here, and he ends up breaking God's law. He eats that which is unclean, he eats honey out of a dead body, when he was specifically told to stay away from that. Eventually by being with this whorish woman, Delilah, he ends up getting his hair cut off, which he was not supposed to cut off, and he ends up just completely ruining his life, I mean to the point where you wonder, "Is there anything left for this guy?"
They actually punch out his eyes to where he's completely blinded. He's enslaved by the Philistines, and he's actually just used to make a mockery of the Children of Isreal and the God of Israel. They're praising their god, Dagon, and they're making a mockery of this man of God, Samson, who was a great man of God, a spirit-filled man of God at one time, but had ruined his life through fornication. Now, he's just a complete fool, a complete laughingstock, a complete loser, but yet the Bible says that the hair of his head began to grow again. The symbolism there is that God still had something for him. God's given him another shot.
He ends up doing, in the end, what his whole life was intended to do. What was his life intended to do in the first place? He was there to deliver the Children of Isreal from the Philistines, and he ends up delivering the Children of Isreal from the Philistines, even in his blinded, humiliated, chained-up condition because, of course, God gives him supernatural strength to push out the pillars and bring down the whole palace upon himself and upon all the lords of the Philistines. He actually slew more of the enemy in his death than he had done in his whole life.
That's not ideally how it would have happened. If I were Samson, I'd rather defeat the Philistines in battle and then ride the victory parade home and rule over the Children of Isreal and grow to be old and gray-headed, and have my wife, and my children, and my grandchildren and judge Israel until I'm 100 years old, and then die in peace and be buried in a grave. That would be ideal, wouldn't it. Samson missed out on that by sinning. It's not that there isn't consequence for our sin, but that there is a plan B for our lives. You know what, I believe that it meant a lot of Samson to be able to fulfill the purpose of his life in the end, even if he messed up his own life. He got to do the thing that he was on this Earth to do, to free his people from the Philistines. God had a plan B for his life.
Look at Psalm 51. The Bible says in verse 1- This is David after he had sinned with Bathsheba and been confronted by Nathan, the prophet. He says, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness. According under the multitude of they tender mercies. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee." David here he's not making excuses for himself. He's sorry. He's confessing his sin. He's taking all the responsibility, and he says, "God, I want to continue to serve you. I want to continue to be used by you." Of course David did not lose his salvation, was never in danger of losing his salvation, because our salvation is eternal, and no one can lose their salvation, because once you're saved you're always saved. The Bible teaches that we have eternal life and that we're not saved by our works but we're saved by grace.
Even in the Old Testament they're saved by grace. Man has always been saved by grace. That's the only way any man would ever be saved in the first place, is if it were a free gift. If God would mark iniquities no one would be able to stand. In this passage when he says, "Take not they Holy Spirit from me," this is not the New Testament indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That was not given until Jesus rose from the dead. Rather, this is the power of God on his life. If you remember, the Spirit of God departed from Saul. He did not have the Spirit of the Lord upon him anymore, and the power of God to rule and reign and to do the work of God.
The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and rested on David. David did not want that to happen. He did not want to go through the rest of his life not serving God, not being used by God, not having the power of God. He asked God to please renew a right spirit within him, not to cast him away from His presence, or take His Holy Spirit from Him, and not to restore the salvation because he'd never lost the salvation. He said, "Restore unto me the joy of they salvation."
You see, when we go into sin we don't lose our salvation but we lose the joy of our salvation. Sin does not bring joy. Sin robs the joy out of our lives and depresses us and makes us sad. The Bible says in 1 John, for example, chapter 1, it says, "These things write we unto you that your joy may be full." Just a few verse later at the beginning of chapter 2 he says, "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not." Now, that tells me that sinning not leads to fullness of joy. The more we sin the less joy we're going to have. The less we sin the more joy we're going to have in our lives, because sin robs us of our joy.
He says, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with they free spirit." I love verse 13. He's not done. He's not done serving God. He's not done working for God. He wants to be used by God. He says, "Then, will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee." He's saying, "You know what, I'm gonna continue to win people to the Lord. I'm gonna continue to preach the Word of God, and people will be saved as a result of the Word that I preach."
I mean, isn't that great, that God has a plan B here for the life of David, where even after he's committed these horrible sins he can still do something great for God. Now, was there irreparable damage to his life? Of course. We know the story of what happened with Absalom, what happened with Amnon, and what happened with Adonijah, and we know what happened with the baby that was born from this adulterous union, the four children that David lost as a result of this sin. Yet, was his life over? Should he just throw in the towel, or should he just say, "Well, you know, I've committed such a big sin, I might as well just go all the way into a life of sin and just start worshiping other gods or committing adultery all over the place?" No, he realized that there still's hope to confess, forsake that sin, and continue to live a life that would please God and not be a complete loser for the rest of your life.
Just because you've messed up in the past. Just because you've blown it majorly, it doesn't mean that you have to be a loser for the rest of your life. You can start right now. You can start today and get on God's plan B for your life and head for the Red Sea. Even if you messed up repeatedly, like the Children of Isreal are told, "Go into the Promised Land." They won't go. Then he has to punish them. Then He says, "Okay, you're not gonna go in the Promised Land." They say, "Oh, okay, well now we're going." He punishes them again and then He says, "Now, go to the Red Sea," and they still had the opportunity to get back in the will of God.
God's direction in their lives, God's leading, God's will was represented by that cloudy pillar by day and the pillar of fire by night that would lead them. God's presence in the camp, showing them where to go, and that cloudy pillar, and that fire by night, was still there even after they'd disobeyed God. It led them to the Red Sea. It led them around Mount Seir. It led them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, and they learned the lessons and they taught their children, and their children grew up and were a generation that believed God and took the Promised Land. We read all of the great victories in the book of Joshua. Maybe you've messed up your life, but your children could still rise up and do great things for God.
You could still raise godly children, and maybe some of the things that you could have done with your life that you're not going to be able to do anymore, maybe they could grow up and do it.
Then you life still has great purpose and value.
Because you're being used by God to raise up that next preacher, or that next godly soul winner, whatever the case may be.
Now, let me give you another example of this in John, chapter 21. John, chapter number 21. Of course, we know the story of Peter denying the Lord Jesus Christ three times in his hour of need. The Bible talks about how as a result of denying the Lord, when Jesus looks on him and he realizes what he's done and it really registers with him that he's denied Christ three times, the Bible says in Luke 22:62, "And Peter went out and wept bitterly." He wept bitterly at the fact that he had denied Christ, and he feels that it's over for him. He's ready to quit. He's ready to throw in the towel.
Now, if you remember, when Jesus had found Peter he was a fisherman, and he had been told by Jesus, "From henceforth that shalt catch men." He said, "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men." He forsook the net, he forsook the ship, and he gave up the life of fisherman in order to follow Jesus Christ and be with Him day and night, because that was what was expected of the apostles. They had to drop everything and just follow Jesus for those three and a half years, and they had to give up their former jobs and their former lives. Jesus wasn't going to wait around for them and work around their schedule. They had to get on His program, if you recall. That's why there were only a few that followed Him in that way.
Peter, in John, chapter 21, verse 1, is discouraged and down. He's denied the Lord. He's wept bitterly. He feels that he's failed. He feels that it's over for him. Look at verse one. "After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias, and on this wise shewed He himself. There were together Simon Peter and Thomas, called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, 'I go a fishing.'" Now, what he should have been saying was, 'Let's go soul winning.' Instead he said, 'I go a fishing.' "They say unto him, 'We also go with thee.' They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing." There's so much that we can learn just from these first few verses.
Number one, when you quit on God, you end up taking other people with you, because Peter is the one that blew it. Peter's the one that's discouraged. When he says, "I'm going fishing," he takes half the disciples with him. "Yeah, we're going, too. I go, too, with you." He ends up dragging other people away from the will of God, as well. Remember that even though your life may be messed up, you got to think about your children, and you got to think about your brothers and sisters in Christ and what a discouragement it will be to them when you fully quit and throw in the towel. It says also that, "When they went forth and entered into a ship immediately and that night they caught nothing." Another thing that you see is that after you've served God, after you've been used greatly by God and then you decide to go back to the old life and you get backsliden and quit on God, when you go back to the old life it's not the way that you remember it.
You go back and there's nothing there for you anymore. It's empty. You think you're going to enjoy it, but you're not, because it's not going to have a same appeal once you've tasted what the Lord has for you and then you go back to the world's garbage, it's just not what it used to be to you.
Verse 4, "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, 'Children, have ye any meat?' They answered him, 'No.' And he said unto them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the ship and ye shall find.' They cast therefore and now they were not able to draw it in for the multitude of fishes. Therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, 'It is the Lord.' Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and he cast himself into the sea, and the other disciples came in a little ship (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fishes."
Now, the significance of this is that when Jesus first called Peter a story almost just like this happened where Peter had toiled all night and caught nothing. Jesus tells him to cast the net on the other side. He casts the net. He brings in the fishes. Why is Jesus doing this? He's trying to tell Peter that we can push a reset button here. You can start over. Now think about this with the Children of Israel. Where does he tell them to go? The Red Sea. What's He doing? He's bringing them back and saying, "Let's start over. Let's do this again. Let's go back to square one. I'm giving you another chance. It's plan B for your life." Here we see the same thing. He's bringing Peter back to the initial calling, and He's showing Peter that He still has something for him.
It says in verse 9, "As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, 'Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.' Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty-three, and for all that there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, 'Come and dine,' and none of the disciples durst ask him, 'Who art thou?' knowing that it was the Lord."
They dared not ask. They were nervous. They were kind of uncomfortable, probably because they had been caught doing that which they were not supposed to be doing. They feel a little bit embarrassed. Peter was literally caught with his pants down according to the story there in verse number 7, but the Bible says in verse number 13, "Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?' He saith unto him, 'Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.' He saith unto him, 'Feed my lambs.' He saith to him again the second time, 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?' He saith unto him, 'Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' He saith unto him, 'Feed my sheep.' He saith unto him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?' Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, 'Lovest thou me?' And he said unto him, 'Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.' Jesus saith unto him, 'Feed my sheep.' Verily, verily, I say unto thee, 'When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest, but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.' This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God, and when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, 'Follow me.'"
Here Jesus tells Peter that he's going to go somewhere that he doesn't want to go. He's going to face a death that he doesn't want to face. He's going to go through punishments and tribulations that he doesn't want to endure, because of his disobedience to God, as a consequence, because there are consequences to our sins.
But, he still says, "Follow me." There's still something for you. We can still start over. Of course, we know that Peter was greatly used by God after this. Just look at the book of Acts. Look at the day of Pentecost. Look at him in the temple preaching and boldly in front of the Jews, and the Sanhedrin, and all the great works for God. The book of I Peter, and the book of II Peter and all the amazing things. If he would have thrown in the towel at this point he would not have even done his greatest works, not even close.
He says to him, "Follow me." He's giving him another chance. He's reinstated. The Bible says in verse 20, "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following, which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, 'Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?' Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, 'Lord, what shall this man do?' Jesus saith unto him, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.'
Basically, Peter is asking, "Well, what's the difference between what you have for my life and what you have for the guy who's done it all right?' I'm not saying John was a perfect person, but he was the one who did it right. He's the one who stays with Jesus. He follows Jesus in with them. He doesn't deny Christ. He stays right with. He's at the cross, Jesus hanging on the cross. John's right there. When everybody's fleeing and people are saying they don't know him, John was the one who goes with Him into the courtyard. He's there the whole process. He'd done it all right as it were. Not saying he's perfect, but he had done things right, more than any of the other disciples. In that sense you could look at it and say he was the best one, in the sense that he was the most faithful, obedient, and so forth. He asked the question, "Well, what shall this man do?" Jesus, basically, just says, "Well, you know, that's none of your business. It doesn't really matter. If he taries until I come what is that to three?"
Of course, he explains how there became a misunderstanding where people thought that He was just never going to die, when in reality Jesus was just saying that as a figure of speech. "Well, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? You follow me." The lesson here is that if we've messed up our lives we shouldn't focus on what we've missed out on and, "Oh, man, this is what I could have done," and just keep-, "Well, look what that guy's doing. That could have been. I could have been doing that, but instead I'm just doing this." We need to just be thankful that God still has a place for us, and be thankful that God's ready to restore us, that Jesus still wants us to follow Him, that there are great works for us to do, that we can be used greatly by God. Instead of worrying about what we've lost, the Bible says, "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
John got to write the book of John, arguably the greatest book in the Bible, the book that's to tell you how to be saved, the book that's been translated into more languages than any book of the Bible, the book of John. If people just translate one book into some tribal language, it's usually the gospel of John. That's the book that they usually start with. He got to pin down the greatest Bible verse, John 3:16, that virtually everyone in the world has heard.
Of course, Peter got to write I and II Peter, but John got to write I, II, and III John. I'm kidding, of course. The point is that God has something for you as a plan B for your life, and we are not to envy other people and lament the fact that we didn't get to go to the Promised Land, and we didn't get to defeat the Canaanites, all we got to do was defeat Og and Shion, the kings of Bashan. That's all we got to do. We didn't really get to do as much as that guy. Who cares! Live your own life. The Bible says that if we compare ourselves amongst ourselves we're not wise.
Just realize that God's grace is sufficient for you, that if you're under the sound of my voice and you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior, and you're a born again child of God that your life is not over until you are dead, and you always have something else that God can use you to do, and you need to stay in the battle, stay on course, don't go back to the world, don't get backslidden, and don't get this foolish idea that, "Well, if all sin's equal. If I committed this sin I might as well just go all the way." No, because number one, all sin's not equal, and number two, just because you've committed one sin, if you commit another sin you're compounding the punishment. It's just going to go worse.
For example, Samson when he ate out of the lion carcass he's already broken the vow of the Nazarite that he was supposed to do. From the cradle to the grave he was supposed to be a Nazarite unto the Lord. He violated that by eating out of the lion's carcass. At that point he could have just said, "Oh, well, I've failed. I've blown it. I might as well just go all the way." Here's the thing, when he'd eaten out of the lion carcass, God looked the other way and didn't take away his strength. It was only when he had gone a step further and not only eaten that which was unclean, but also had his hair cut off that God took away his strength, that God took away his power. Even then there was still more for Samson.
The point is, just because you've committed adultery don't add murder to it, David. Just because you've eaten out of the dirty lion carcass, don't add the haircut to that. Don't just go further in it. Well, this is what people tend to do in the Bible, and this is what people tend to do in our lives, where they commit a sin and they just say, "Ah, I've blown it." For example, let's say you're an alcoholic, right, and then you quit drinking. Actually, I'm sorry, you're not an alcoholic. You're a drunk, okay. Let's say you're a drunk and then you get cleaned up of alcohol, right. Then, let's say you fall off the wagon and drink a beer. Should you at that point say, "Well, I just blew it. I'd been totally clean for x-amount of months, and now I drunk a beer so since I just blew it I might as well just go out and just get completely drunk, right. Wouldn't it be better to just say, "Okay, I drank one beer. Not the end of the world. Let's pick it up tomorrow and start over and continue being sober." People have this all or nothing mentality where they commit a sin and then they just throw in the towel, instead of being the just man who falls seven times and rises up again.
It reminds me of brother Paul and his Starbucks addiction, okay. He'd been clean of Starbucks for like six weeks, all right, and then he fell off the wagon. I think he was having a real stressful week. I think I was stressing him out or something, we were traveling or doing something. He just needed a Starbucks, right. After he fell into that temptation of Starbucks, and I'm kidding, of course, because I'm not saying there's anything wrong with drinking coffee. I'm joking. He wanted to quite drinking the coffee. Then, after like six weeks of being clean of Starbucks coffee then all of a sudden he's just drinking like three or four a day. It's like, "Whoa, buddy, get back on the wagon." I'm telling you, that's the mentality- I'm just teasing. I'm just joking, obviously. Isn't that human nature, though? You could use illustrations about anything with that. The coffee thing is a silly illustration, of course.
For example, I had this thing where I was going to run every single day and I was on this running streak where I had to run at least one mile every single day. I did it for like 94 days straight. I ran at least one mile. Some days I ran way more than that, but I ran at least one mile every day, even on my day off of training, run one mile, one mile, one mile. I did that for like 94 days straight. Then I got like the flu, or something. I was really sick. I was just like, "I'm gonna go run the mile anyway." I go out there and I'm like, "I can do it." I get to where I just finished my mile. You know what they say, it only hurts when you stop.
As soon as I stopped running I just dropped to my knees in front of somebody else's house and just threw up in the gutter repeatedly. I was just on my hands and knees just puking my guts out. I got up and just stumbled back to my house and was just like, "Wow, I shouldn't have done that." Then, the next day I didn't run again, so I missed like two days, and then it was like, "Okay, let's get back out there," but you know what I just couldn't get back into it, because it was just like, "I failed. I broke the running streak." It was just depressing to be at day one, or day two, or day three.
You know what, that's a foolish mentality. So what. In the scheme of things, if you ran 360 days that year because you got the flu and missed a few days, I mean that's still a lot of running, right. I mean, you're still doing a lot of running. It probably wouldn't affect your fitness whatsoever if you missed three days of running or something. It's not going to affect anything. I mean, drinking that one Starbucks probably isn't affecting anything, if you think about it, in the scheme of things, okay.
The point is sometimes it's hard for us when we fail to get back on the horse, but you know what, we have to get this thing down of repenting and being restored and getting back up again after we fall. You know what, you're going to fall. God forbid you ever fall as hard as some of these Bible characters fell. God forbid- I'm not saying, "Everybody's gonna commit adultery, and murder, and-" No, no. No. What I'm saying is, "God forbid you fall that hard, but when you fall, not if you fall, when you fall, and hopefully it's a much more minor fall than that, but when you fall you have to know to get back up again. You have to know that God's mercies are new every morning.
The running streak can start again any morning. The coffee abstinence, or whatever- I'm just kidding. I don't want people to- People are going to be like, "Wow, Pastor Anderson thinks coffee is a sin." I don't. I'm not a Seventh-day Adventist or a Mormon, okay. I don't think coffee is a sin. I'm just using that as an illustration. The point is we need to realize that there's always a plan B for our lives, and that it's never too late to start over. Why don't you start over tonight.
Why don't you wake up tomorrow morning and realize no matter what stupid things you've been doing, no matter what sins you've been doing, no matter how you've been failing, why don't you just start over tomorrow morning and just say, "You know what, I'm gonna do it right today. I'm gonna get in God's will now. Maybe I didn't head for the Red Sea yesterday like I was supposed to but, you know what, today I'm heading for the Red Sea. Today I'm going out soul winning. Today I'm gonna do it right."
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your Word, Lord, and we thank you for the second chances, and third chances that you give us, Lord. Help us never to get this attitude that there's no consequence when we do wrong, Lord. Of course, there are major consequences, but help us to always realize that there's a plan B for our lives, Lord. Help us never to get so discouraged that we just get swallowed up of overmuch sorrow and just throw in the towel, Lord. Help us to keep on going. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.