GOD GIVES SECOND CHANCES
Maria and her daughter, Christina, live in a poor neighborhood on the skirts of a Brazilian village.
Maria’s husband had died when Christina was an infant. The young mother, stubbornly refusing opportunities to remarry, got a job and set out to raise her young daughter. Now, fifteen years later, the worst years were over. Though Maria’s salary as a maid afforded few luxuries, it was reliable and it did provide food and clothing. Now Christina was old enough to get a job to help out.
Some said Christina got her independence from her mother. She recoiled at the traditional idea of marrying young and raising a family. Not that she couldn’t have had her pick of husbands. Her olive skin and brown eyes kept a steady stream of prospects at her door. She had an infectious way of throwing her head back and filling the room with laughter. She also had that rare magic some women have that makes every man feel like a king just being near them. But it was her spirited curiosity that made her keep all the men at arm’s length.
She spoke often of going to the city. She dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Just the thought of this horrified her mother. Maria was always quick to remind Christina of the harshness of the streets. “People don’t know you there. Jobs are scarce and the life is cruel. And besides, if you went there, what would you do for a living?”
Maria knew exactly what Christina would do, or would have to do for a living. That’s why her heart broke when she awoke one morning to find her daughter’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. She also knew immediately what she must do to find her. She quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all her money, and ran out of the house.
On her way to the bus stop, she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
She knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that before were unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for streetwalkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture-taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note.
It wasn’t too long before both the money, and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.
It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over, she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet.
As Christina reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.”
1. Have you ever done something in your past that you are ashamed of?
2. Have you ever felt that you have disappointed God to such an extent that He would never love you again or accept you into heaven?
3. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just erase certain parts of our lives that disappointed God…
As a child, I used to play with a toy called an Etch-a-sketch. The Etch-a-sketch was a little red and gray drawing board full of sand (or at least something like sand). You twisted two knobs on the bottom of the screen to draw a picture. If you messed up, all you had to do was shake the thing a couple of times and you got a clean screen. You got a chance to start all over again.
4. Brethren, the good news is that it is possible for us to start all over again with God.
a. We can have all of our past sins erased.
b. We can have all of our evil thoughts eradicated.
c. We can have all of our disappointments with God exterminated.
THIS MORNING, I WILL PROVIDE SEVERAL POINTS ON HOW TO START ALL OVER WITH GOD.
I. IN ORDER TO START ALL OVER, WE MUST FIRST REALIZE THE QUALITY OF GOD’S MERCY AND GRACE.
1. A few years before I became a Christian, I distinctively remember a thought that crossed my mind. The thought was this: “Even if I became a Christian, God would never love me nor except me into heaven because of the past sins that I had committed.”
2. For years, I looked at God as an unforgiving and unmerciful God who took pleasure in punishing people.
3. However, as I began reading the Bible, I discovered that God is exactly the opposite of what I thought He was. God is not an unmerciful and unforgiving God, instead, He is a merciful and forgiving God who does not enjoy punishing us.
One night in 1935, Mayor LaGuardia of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. The judge of that district had a reputation for being jaded and harsh in his sentences. If you went before him you know you would get the maximum sentence the law allowed.
On this particular occasion, La Guardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. La Guardia said after she pleaded guilty to the crime, “I have to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” It was obvious she couldn’t pay.
So the judge out of his own pocket paid the fine for her. He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city “where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat.” The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50 in her purse.
Solely out of the goodness of his heart, the Mayor of New York helped the woman who could not help herself. He gave her the opportunity to pay her debts and start all over again.
4. God is this kind of judge. He has mercifully paid our penalty for sin and has given us the opportunity to start all over again.
5. God is a merciful God.
6. Kindness and mercy are strong qualities of the nature of God. The Nave’s Topical Bible lists over 200 verses that describe the merciful nature of God.
Long ago, a poor woman from the slums of London was invited to go with a group of people for a vacation at the ocean. She had never seen 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.
Finally, one of them asked her why she was crying. Pointing to the ocean, she answered, “This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was enough of.”
7. Listen, God has oceans of mercy and it will never run out.
8. Before we start all over again, and rededicate our lives to the Lord, we must realize and accept the quality of God’s mercy. It will reach us if we want it.
II. SECOND, IN ORDER TO START ALL OVER, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT GOD IS WILLING TO GIVE US ANOTHER CHANCE.
1. During the past several weeks, we have been studying the book of Jonah.
2. As you recall, God wanted His prophet Jonah to go and preach against the city of Nineveh. However, Jonah did not want to fulfill that mission so in order to flee from the Lord, he boarded a ship and sailed for Tarshish. But during that journey, the Lord sent a great wind on the sea that threatened to break up the ship. In order to save the ship, the crew, after discovering that the storm was Jonah’s fault, threw him into the sea. While drowning in the sea, Jonah prayed for the Lord’s help, and God sent a great fish who swallowed Jonah and eventually vomited him onto the dry land.
3. Let us turn to (Jonah 3:1-3) to find out what happened to Jonah next.
4. Although at one time Jonah had refused to go to Nineveh, God gave him another chance. For it says, “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” Even though Jonah at first disappointed God, he was still given another chance.
5. God gives second chances!
Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a “light bulb” and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work.
You probably guessed what happened by now; that the poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. He gave him a second chance.
6. No matter what we have done in our past, God will accept us and give us another chance.
7. God is not interested in what we once were; instead, He is interested in what we can become.
8. Many people in the Bible overcame a turbulent past, and became great and faithful servants of the Lord.
a. Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, at one time worshipped other gods (Joshua 24:2).
b. David, the third King of Israel, although he committed adultery, became a man after God’s own heart.
c. Paul, the great apostle of Jesus Christ, at one time had Christians arrested and killed.
9. Although at one time these men lived ungodly lives, they were given another chance and eventually they became great servants of the Lord, and so can we.
10. We must forget our past failures and focus on our future successes.
11. Paul put it this way in (Phil. 3:13-14) “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
One day the police stopped a teen-age girl in a city in Idaho, after complaints that a car had been seen going around her neighborhood in reverse for some time.
The girl told police that her parents had let her use the car, but she had put too much mileage on it. She said, “I was trying to unwind some of it.”
1. My friends, this morning, God is giving you another chance to get your life right with Him. You can unwind all the sinful mileage that you have accumulated over the years. Today, you can start a fresh new relationship with the Lord.
2. How do you start all over with God?
3. If you are not a Christian, God wants you to do five things in order to get your life right with Him.
a. First, God wants you to believe in Him and in His Son Jesus Christ.
b. Second, God wants you repent of your sins.
c. Third, God wants you to confess faith in Jesus Christ.
d. Fourth, God wants you to be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.
e. Fifth, God wants you to live a faithful and obedient live to the end.
4. If you obey these biblical principles, this morning you can receive salvation and start a new life serving the Lord. All the sins you have ever committed will be wiped away. God will remember them no more.
5. If you are already a Christian, but yet you have wandered away from God, then God wants you to do two things in order to get right with Him.
a. God wants you to repent and confess your sins to Him.
6. Right now, the Lord has His arms wide open just waiting for you to respond. Since He is such a loving and merciful God, He is willing to give you another chance to get your life right with Him.
7. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, do you remember what the Father’s reaction was when his son returned to him?
8. God is standing at this altar this morning, with His arms wide open, hoping and praying that you will come to Him.
9. I am sure that the Devil has planted this thought in your mind: "You do not have to respond this morning, for you will have plenty of time down the road to give your life to God."
10. The truth is, since life is so unpredictable, you may never have another chance to get right with God.
11. At the very beginning of this lesson, I told you the story about Christina who wandered away from her home and became a prostitute. After she saw her mother’s note, she went back home.
12. God’s message to you this morning is the same as Christina’s mothers message to her daughter.
“Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.”
13. Come home to the Lord right now as we stand and sing.