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March 03, 2013
Isaiah 55:1-9 Luke 13:1-9 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever made a mistake so bad that you had to start all over again? Have you ever made a mistake that was that bad but you weren’t allowed to start over and just had to live with the mistake? In the 1991 film, City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal, Phil, one of main characters, discovers that the young woman with whom he is having an affair is pregnant. This revelation, during his friend’s birthday party, causes his already unhappy wife to file for divorce. Later in the movie as Phil laments the ways in which he has messed up his life, his friends tell him that his life is just like when they played together in elementary school and accidentally got the ball stuck in a tree, somebody would yell, “Do over!” and the batter would get to try again. Phil’s friends tell him that his life is a “do over,” that this is his chance to start over again. When you mess up big, you hope for a “do over.” When we mess up bad, we hope for a second chance but we don’t always get one. Sometimes the police officer, who pulls your car to the side of the road, won’t give you a second chance. Sometimes the judge doesn’t give you a second chance. Sometimes your spouse doesn’t give you a second chance. Sometimes your coach doesn’t give you a second chance. Sometimes your boss doesn’t give you a second chance. The good news is that God, most often is just waiting to give you a second chance. God calls out to all of his children, not just for a second chance, but for a life that is satisfying, a life filled with goodness, a life filled with… life, even eternal life. (Isaiah 55:1-9) “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, 1
the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. God calls to his children and declares that he is ready to give all these gifts, life, satisfaction, goodness, eternal life, and more, if only they would turn away from their evil and wickedness. If anyone is willing to do that, to turn away from their wickedness and turn toward God, then God will have mercy on them and forgive them. God does this because… Our God is the god of second chances. The bad news is that even the best among us can make poor choices. The people of Israel were freed from their slavery in Egypt and they saw God in front of them every day. They saw God perform miracles, they walked through the sea on dry land, in the middle of the desert they drank from a spring that had never been there before and still they could not believe that God would protect them… (1 Corinthians 10:1-13) For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twentythree thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The Israelites saw God at work, they saw God inhabit a cloud and a pillar of fire that was in front of them every day, and still they chose to worship idols, still they chose to disobey, still they were immoral, and still they complained about the things that God had given to them. God warns us through these stories, that even those who were able to see God and to know better, these followers of God fell into temptation, but that wasn’t the end. God warns us that we will be tempted but that when we are tempted, he will provide a way out, if we will only look for it. We will be tempted, but God promises to provide a way for us to endure. God offers his help because… Our God is the god of second chances. But we don’t get a second chance automatically. It isn’t like playground rules that say getting a ball stuck in a tree gives us an automatic “do over.” God requires that we stop doing wrong. Repentance literally means to ‘change direction.’ In Luke 13:1-9, Jesus talks about people who were killed and explains that everyone who dies hasn’t been “struck down” by God but also that God still requires repentance… Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were guiltier than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” The people that Pilate murdered didn’t die because they were terrible sinners and neither were the people who died because a building fell on them. Evil people do evil things. Good people die because evil people kill them. Good people die because accidents happen. In that way, the world is the same now as it was two thousand years ago. Even so, God will allow us to die, in our own time, perhaps even by natural causes, but just the same, eternally dead, if we do not repent of our sins, change our direction, turn from our wickedness, sin and rebellion and begin to follow Jesus. The good news is that… Our God is the god of second chances. But just like the people of Israel in the wilderness, God will allow us to choose sin and rebellion. Jesus told a story about a fig tree that wouldn’t grow figs. A fruit tree with no fruit. The owner of the vineyard was angry. He kept coming back to the tree for three years and still, no fruit. The tree was taking up space that could have been given to something more productive. The owner is ready to cut the tree down and use it for firewood or furniture, but the caretaker asked for one more chance. “Give me another year,” he says “and I will care for it and nurture it, and then, if it still doesn’t bear fruit, then go ahead and cut it down.” God is like that because... Our God is the god of second chances.
The children of God and the followers of Jesus Christ were created to bear fruit, but many do not. Even so, Jesus asks the Father for one more chance. “Give me a little more time. I will care for them, and nurture them and see if I can get them to bear fruit.” Jesus makes an extra effort to save us because… Our God is the god of second chances. The warning that we should hear in all of these passages is that death will find us sooner or later. We will all meet our end at the hands of evil men, or through accidents, or simply when the sands of time have exhausted the days of our lives. Once our time on earth has run out, all the second chances in the world will be of no use to us but more than that, all we have to do is look in the newspaper or watch the evening news to remember that for some of us, tomorrow may never come. Any one of us could be hit by a bus this afternoon, or struck by lightning, or meet our end in any one of a thousand different ways. There are no guarantees for tomorrow. We know that each one of us has made mistakes. We know that we continue, to regularly, make more mistakes. We are not perfect. If we had the chance, many of us would love to have a “do over,” a second chance to avoid making some of the wrong-headed mistakes that we’ve made. In the face of our imperfection God calls out to us to repent, to turn away from our wickedness, sin and rebellion and begin to follow Jesus. At the moment we do that, God stands ready to forgive us because… Our God is the god of second chances.
You have been reading a message presented at Trinity United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Trinity of Perry heights in Massillon, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Trinity United Methodist Church, 3757 Lincoln Way E., Massillon, Ohio 44646. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at email@example.com. If you have questions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on Facebook (search for Pastor John Online). These messages can also be found online at http://www.scribd.com/Pastor John Partridge. All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
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