How Christians Can Move Beyond Failure

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THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
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TOPIC: HOW CHRISTIANS CAN MOVE BEYOND FAILURE

TEXT: MATTHEW 16: 13-20

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

 

INTRODUCTION

In today’s sermon we will begin from the story of the Apostle Peter also known as Simon Peter, the son of John also known as the son of Jonah.   The Apostle Peter (Simon) was from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee or Gaulanitis.  He was known to be the early Christian leader and one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.  His brother Andrew was also an Apostle.  The Apostle Peter was highly venerated in many churches and also regarded as the first Pope by the Catholic Church, says P. E. Eastering & E. J. Kenney.  He worked so hard to the extent of establishing a church in Antioch where he presidered for seven years as the leader of the city’s Christian community.  He also labored so hard by preaching to other scattered communities of believers, such as the Jews and the Hebrew Christians, the Gentiles in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor and Bithynia.  He then went to Rome where in the second year of Claudius he overthrew Simon Magus and held the Sacerdotal Chair for twenty-five (25) years.  However, the bad or sad news is, he was finally put to death during the reign of Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus, the fifth person of the Roman Emperors.   Nero Claudius reigned for fourteen (14) years from 54 to 68 A.D. and from the Christian point of view; he was one of the most barbaric persecutors of the early church, said P. E. Eastering and E. J. Kenney.  In today’s sermon the following points will be emphasized:

  1. A Call for Peter’s Involvement

At a specific time the Apostle Simon Peter was called by the Lord Jesus Christ for a specific task.  He thought it would be a difficult task but he finally surrendered and obeyed the Lord for the mission entrusted into his hand.  The Scripture says;

  1. Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

5 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.  3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;  10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him (Luke 5: 1-11 (NKJV).

  1. Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Jesus Heals a Great Multitude

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.  24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.  25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan (Matthew 4:18-25 (NKJV).

  1. Philip and Nathanael

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”  44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”  51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter[a] you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man (John 1:43-51(NKJV).

The above Scriptural passages indicate the multitude of people that gathered together before Jesus Christ to hear the word of God.  Our Lord Jesus Christ stood by the Lake of Gennesaret and saw two boats beside the Lake but the fishermen were not in the boat because they were washing their nets.  Jesus Christ then entered into one of the boats that belong to Simon Peter and used it as a pulpit to teach the crowd.  In those days in the Sea of Galilee, fishing was always done at night for survival or living but not at daytime.  That is, something done at midnight involves a rigorous and hard job.  The Lord finally said to Simon Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his net for a catch.  But Simon Peter responded thus:

  1. Jesus Cleanses a Leper

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him.  14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.  16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.[a]  18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.  19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?  23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?  24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!” (Luke 5:12-26 (NKJV).

It seems as if Simon Peter’s statement was a form of an argument because he said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” But, the good news is, he added; “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  Even though Simon Peter and his team had been unsuccessful before, but they made up their mind to be obedient to the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In reference to Bill Crowder who said thus:

The story is told that the Duke of Wellington, the great British commander who defeated             Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Waterloo during the Hundred Days conflict in 1815, once gave a command to one of his generals, who then responded that it was an impossible command to execute.  The Duke told him, “You go ahead and do it, because I don’t give impossible commands.” (Bill Crowder, Lessons from the Life of Peter, pg. 20).

 

  1. The Result of Simon Peter’s Obedience

Simon Peter probably thought the Lord’s order would be utterly impossible.  But what was the outcome?  A huge number of fish were caught at the wrong time that is, during the day time, and in the wrong way, that is when Peter did not believe it would ever be possible.  This means, the Apostle Peter found himself in the presence of the Person who could do the impossible.

Brethren, be assured we have the Lord who is able to turn the impossibilities to possibilities.  No wonder the Scripture says; “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).  This means Jesus doesn’t give impossible command.  This is the truth that Simon Peter discovered when he finally obeyed the instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Beloved, be assured that the longer we live, the more we have to deal with failure.  But the good-news is, when we fail, we need not to give up.  We must understand that the key to overcoming failure is to recognize that it can be beneficial.  God wants us to learn from our failures and also to learn not to make the same mistake again.  We need to face our weaknesses and accept personal responsibility for our actions.  We cannot correct a problem we are not willing to face, but, by the grace of God we can turn our failure into victory.  Sometimes we fail simply because we are humanly incapable of accomplishing a certain task.  Even though we may love to snow ski, we may not have the physical ability to ski in the Winter Olympics.  But that does not mean we are a failure.  God does not call us to do something unless He equips us for it.  Brethren, don’t spend the rest of your life feeling like you are a failure.

Most of us have dreams that we never fully realize or understand, but that does not mean we have failed.  Sometimes we overlook our successes because we focus all our attention on what we cannot do. There are many things we can do to the glory of God, but if we let failure discourage us, we will never accomplish God’s purpose for us.  Accept the reality of failure because sometimes human beings fail.   The Scripture says, “For He knows our frame; and He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). God knows our limitations, and we must accept them as well.  True success is not avoiding failure, but learning what to do with it.  It is better to attempt things and fail, than never to attempt anything because you are afraid to fail.  Brother/Sister, be aware that we can never learn the limits of our ability until we reach the point of total failure.  Beloved, worrying about what might go wrong will prevent you from moving ahead.  Stop being afraid of failure and determine for a great success.  Focus on your goals and not on your fears.  Move ahead with good and great determination for the Bible says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
 

CONCLUSION

Beloved, how often have you been disobedient to the mission the Lord entrusts into your hand?  Perhaps your main problem is fear and disagreement because you think it is a difficult and a heavy task.  Because of that you abandon it.  When will you come back to the Lord’s mission entrusted into your care and say, Father, with you on my side I will be obedient to the task given to me!  In order words, you need to say; no matter the tactics of the enemies beside you, you will be victorious!   
             I wish you understand the Lord’s word to the Apostle Peter when He said, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will catch men . . . . “ (Luke 5: 10-11).  This means, Jesus Christ is inviting you and I, to an adventure of faith that will radically transform our lives into a New Attitude, therefore, do not be afraid.
(a) A New Day! That is, the failure of the past is replaced with a new future. 
(b) A New Purpose! This means, leading sinners to faith in Christ Jesus just as David and Moses shepherd God’s people.   
(c) And, A New Life! That is, forsaking all and following Him.  This may be expressed as radical commitment.

 

 REFERENCES

Crowder, B. Lessons From The Life of Peter, 2012, pg. 27, Grand Rapids. ISBN: 978-1-57293-724-6.

Eastering, P. E. Kenney, E. J. The Cambridge History of Latin Literature pg. 892.

Cambridge University Press, 1982 ISBN 0-521-21043-7

Dando-Collins, S. 2010.  The Great Fire of Rome pg. 1-4. ISBN 978-0-306-81890

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