June 30 – God of Second Chances – The Day Is Coming…

Read Luke 13:22-30

In this brief devotional series over the last few days, we have been emphasizing the fact that God is a God of second chances. There is no doubt about it! By His grace, He offers to us reconciliation, redemption, and relationship in spite of our past. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for sinful decisions. But even where sin abounds, grace is available in even greater supply to all who humbly repent (Rom. 5:20; 1 Jn. 1:9). Thank you, God!

While we revel in this amazing grace and love of God, we must also understand that this second chance is like a “limited time offer.” Jesus described it in today’s reading as a narrow, open door through which few will enter. Eventually, the time came when the home owner closes the door. After that, no others are permitted entrance.

When will that door close? For you and for those you know, love, work with, and live near, the opportunity to experience God’s forgiving grace is now in this life. Just as the thief on the cross next to Jesus realized, it is available to all who reach out in faith to Jesus, up to the time they draw their final breath (Lk. 23:39-43).

What will happen to those left outside? There is no second chance. Their eternal future is one of punishment and regret. For those who were even around the things of Christ and His followers, if they failed to make a personal response, they will have no second chance after their life is over.

Who will enter the door? It is not the highly respected or even the ones predictable based on their external religiosity, who will live in God’s eternal presence. Jesus was careful to point out that His religious listeners might be excluded while those from the Gentile nations might enter. That wasn’t what they expected to hear. But, at the end of the day, entry into the Kingdom of God is not random. Based on a personal relationship with Christ, a person can be confident of his/her future (1 Jn. 5:11-13).

What are the implications? If you have not yet embraced the personal implications of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection for your sin by faith, don’t hesitate. If you have done so, share that message boldly and joyfully with others. After all, they will not have a second chance once this life is over.

Steve Kern

June 29 – God of Second Chances – Giving Others a Second Chance

Read Colossians 3:13

It is inspiring to recognize how Jesus reacted to those who wronged Him. Jesus gave people a second chance and still does. When you begin to do things the way He did, you will encounter troubles (John 16:33). The world will resist you and pressure you to do things the wrong way but the wrong way does not work: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.” (Matt 7:14).

To do what pleases God takes grit, effort and keeping your eyes on God.

Paul writes in Colossians 3 to put to death whatever belongs to the earthly nature. This can be difficult because the earthly nature comes easy and includes anger, evil desires, greed and revenge.

Prepare for every day by asking God to help you be ready to fight for what is good and clothe yourself with God’s weapons of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength and patience. These are the weapons that Jesus used. These weapons can be used in difficult times in dealing with others and I can be an example of Christ to them. It can help in giving others a second chance.

Have you asked God to give you these weapons? Use these weapons in the way you live, act, text, email and in everything.

Are you prepared?

In order to give somebody a second chance, I need to show gentleness and patience rather than anger and self-serving shouting. Do I knee-jerk react to others or do I respond with love? Prepare your day with prayer and be ready.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.”

Colossians 3:13a

“To forgive means to write it off. Let it go. Tear up the account. It is to render the account canceled.

Warning: forgiveness and opening up to more abuse are not the same thing. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Reconciliation and boundaries have to do with the future. Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again. If they sin, I will forgive again, 70×7.” BOUNDARIES, the book by Dr. Henry Cloud.

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13b

God has given me a second chance and a third chance and more and He has done the same for you. We have the opportunity to give a second chance to people that we know and do it in the same way that God forgave you for your mistakes!

“You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean”.

Micah 7:19 MSG

Can you sink the painful mistakes of others to the bottom of the ocean floor and give them a second chance?

Tom Weckesser

June 28 – God of Second Chances – Salvation

Read John 3:16-17

“Jesus, since the day I realized that you were the one, I never wanted to take my eyes off you. Sometimes life gets hard, and I get so distracted away from your perfection! I do not deserve your heart one bit, yet you love me unconditionally. No matter how many times I fail, you are always right there. Nothing I could ever do would deter your love for me. I’m forever grateful for the way you love me and never leave my side. You know me better than I will ever know myself. You know the best and worst about me and still call me by my name. When I lean into you, my best can be brought out. I have this passion burning in my heart for you. I never thought that a love like yours was possible. Without you I would be absolutely nothing; you give me a sense of hope, and you fulfill my heart with a permanent joy! Although you love me so deeply, my love for you fails at times. I have and will hurt you in so many ways, yet you still never leave. Thank you, O Lord, for without you I’d be worthless; I’d be alone, broken, sad, and lost without hope.”

In 2013 I committed my life to Jesus; this was a one-time commitment, yet, it’s a daily surrender. Before giving my life to Christ, I felt unloved, hopeless, and like I had no purpose. God created us to have a relationship with Him, but we cannot have this relationship because of the sin in our life. We’d never be able to do enough good to be in His presence. Thankfully, God loved us so much He provided a way to be with Him. He sent His Son down to live a perfect life and die a brutal death in our place to pay for our sins. It is because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that I can have a relationship with God.

God’s gift of grace is the second chance I didn’t know I needed.

God is offering this amazing gift to you! There is nothing that you can do to be good enough to deserve it, but He wants to have this relationship with you because HE LOVES YOU! When you admit that you have sinned and went your way instead of God’s way, believe that Jesus died in your place and was resurrected from the dead, commit to living your whole life for Him and accept the gift of grace He freely gives you through Jesus, you’re able to spend an eternity with God and there’s a spot saved for you in heaven.   

Being a follower of Jesus did NOT make my life perfect, but being a follower of Jesus DID give me hope, showed me that I am loved beyond what I can fathom, and revealed that I was made on purpose for a purpose. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise us that it’ll be easy, but on almost every page, He promises it’ll ALL be worth it, living for Him. We get a love deeper than any other, a clean slate, and a second chance to be the person we were created to be.

If you’ve already made this decision, who is someone you can share this good news with?

Michelle Perrino

June 27 – God of Second Chances – Not a License to Sin

Read Romans 6:1-2

We receive salvation by grace through faith. It is at that moment in every person’s life when they decide to follow Jesus that their past, present, and future are forgiven. 

Now, our walk with Jesus doesn’t stop there. We don’t just make that decision and then go on living our life for ourselves. When we give our life over to Jesus, it is just that: we are giving our life to Christ, though we must understand that total perfection and victory is not attainable while living in this fallen world. Therefore, Christ loves us so much that He offers us grace for our shortcomings. He fills the gap between who we are and who we are intended to be. 

I was like most baby believers. I took grace for granted and continued living life for how I wanted and didn’t care about God’s best. I wanted to be in right standing, but I didn’t want to surrender ALL I wanted for what He was calling me to. So, I continued to sin, I continued to live my life for me, all the while putting the face of a “good Christian” on. 

As I grew in my knowledge of who God was and the best He had for me, I began to understand Romans 6 so much better. Him loving me enough to sacrifice His own life for me does not give me a license to just live for myself. The response we should have is to run away from sin because, as Paul reminds the Romans, “we are those who have died to sin.” 

Life on earth is nothing short of hard. What we must remember, what I pray over my family and over you, is that, as you wake in the morning, you look at your day and walk in the moments that follow with the knowledge and strength that you can only receive from Christ! 

Is there any area in your life where you are excusing sin? Are you struggling to give God control of EVERYTHING in your life? Don’t go another moment without surrendering all that you are to God and commit to FULLY follow Him with your life!

He died for us, let’s love for Him! 

Kelly Lawson

June 26 – God of Second Chances – Peter

Read John 21:15-19

Peter, Peter, Peter!  

Just who is this guy that Jesus asked 3 times if he loved Him?  We know he was a fisherman.  He was strong and bold and sometimes a hot head, often acting before thinking.  We also know that Jesus was depending on him to build His church.   Although Peter denied even knowing Jesus the night of His trial three times, Jesus still loved him and forgave him.   Jesus knew he was the perfect person to build His church upon.  Peter’s boldness was what was needed at that time if the church was going to survive the persecution that was in its future.

Peter went on to do exactly what Jesus had told him 3 times to do: feed His lambs, take care of and feed His sheep, the church.

He has missions for all of us to do too.  We are to use our God-given talents to feed and take care of the “sheep” around us and lead them not astray, but into a relationship with Him.  If we can teach, we need to teach.  If we can write, we need to write.  If we can sing, we need to sing. Everyone has a God-given talent they can and should dedicate to Christ and not be afraid of failing.  Jesus knows that we, just like Peter, are only human.  Try as we might, we are going to fail.  We are going to make mistakes.  He understands and He forgives. 

A few years back, I got to see a musical production called “God with Us.”  It is the story of Peter comforting a group of persecuted Christians by reminding them of all the things Jesus had done as they face their inevitable fate of hungry lions in an arena.   The final scene was of them being greeted by Jesus in heaven with a big hug! But when Peter came down the aisle, he was not walking but running full force up the ramp and into Jesus’ arms.  

For those of us who knew Peter’s full story, it had an extra special meaning of forgiveness from not only sin but denial!

Is that the way you want to be greeted in Heaven, running full force into the arms of Jesus?

The One who has been your Savior and friend through all the good and bad times of your life? The One who has listened to you as you called out to Him in the middle of the night for guidance. The One who knows the pain of having friends desert you when you thought you would be able to count on them.  The One who knows what you are going through because He has experienced it Himself.  The One who knows your faults and loves you anyways!

Do you know Him like that?  What steps do you need to take to grow in your knowledge of Him? In what ways are you scared of failing?

He is waiting for you to get to know Him, to give you, like He did Peter, a second chance. Get busy taking care of His sheep!

Pat Arnold

June 25 – God of Second Chances – Samson

Read Judges 16:28-30

I hate to be the one to break the news to you but you are not perfect.  No one is! The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  The unfortunate thing is that many of us tend to think that, because of our sin or because of our baggage, we cannot be used by God.  We feel that our past and our shortcomings exclude us from being a servant of the Lord.  But these are lies!  God is never finished with us.  Like the song we sing on Sunday mornings during worship, “If I’m not dead then You’re not done” (My Testimony). 

One of the great examples of God giving someone a second chance is the story of Samson.  He was a Nazarite and had vows to keep until his death, one of which was to never cut his hair.  Samson’s strength came from his hair.  But what happened?  He told the secret of his strength and, while he was sleeping, his hair was cut and he became powerless. 

Samson was seized by the Philistines who went so far as to gouge out his eyes and bind him in bronze shackles in prison where he was forced into grinding grain. 

Sounds like game over for Samson!  The once mighty man was nothing but a shell of a man.  In prison and forced in to hard labor with no sight and in a place where he faced abuse from the Philistines. 

But God was not done with Samson. 

In Judges 16:22, it says, “But his hair began to grow back after it had been shaved.”  His hair was where he received his power.  It was sheared off.  Removed.  But it started to grow back. 

Things in our past are just that; the past.  It is behind us.  In a sense, our past and our sins or our circumstances leave us feeling powerless.  But the LORD is not done with us! He is never done with us as long as there is breath in our lungs. 

Samson was in chains, the prized prisoner of the Philistines. As they brought him out during a sacrifice to one of their gods, the ONE AND ONLY LIVING GOD ALMIGHTY did a mighty thing! 

Judges 16:28-30 says Samson called out to the Lord:

“Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more. With one act of vengeance, let me pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson took hold of the two middle pillars supporting the temple and leaned against them, one on his right hand and the other on his left.  Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the leaders and all the people in it. And those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed in his life.”

God had given Samson the task of delivering Israel and he blew it; because of that, he was unable to finish the job.  But God gave him a second chance and Samson delivered on his prayer request to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, your past is behind you!  The Lord is not finished with you.  He used a man like Samson who had broken his vow and sinned against Him, was imprisoned and blind, and He can and will use each one us to accomplish His will.

What is in your past that is holding you back? What could God do in and through you if you unshackled yourself and followed hard after Him?

Nate Mills

June 24 – God of Second Chances – Jonah

Read Jonah 1:17-3:3

The news headline just yesterday was “Man Claims He Was Swallowed by a Whale!” The man in the story said he was only in the whale’s mouth for a few seconds, but how scary would that have been?  Yet, the Bible tells us that Jonah was not just in the mouth of a big fish but was actually in its belly for 3 days and 3 nights! 

Jonah had tried to hide from God but then he found himself drowning in the sea tangled in seaweed and being thrown from side to side by the waves. Helpless and hopeless!   

Psalms 139 tells us that we believers are never REALLY helpless:

“Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

If I make my home in the depths, you are there.

EVEN THERE YOUR HAND WILL GUIDE ME,

YOUR HAND WILL HOLD ME FAST!”

And that is exactly what God did.  He didn’t let Jonah drown but gave him a second chance.

Can you imagine thinking you are about to die, then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in the belly of a huge fish?  One on one with God?  It was almost like God was saying, “Jonah, are you finished trying to hide yet? Let’s talk!”

This whole mess was fueled by hate.  Jonah hated the people of Ninevah and he did not want them to hear about God and the hope of salvation.  He was being selfish with what he himself had been given freely and that was the love of the one true God!  Did he know one of those people individually?  No!  Had he listened to their stories of their struggles in life?  Had he even looked into their eyes and saw their loneliness or pain?  No! God was not only rescuing Jonah, but giving him a taste of what life was like without God and to only have worthless idols to turn to.

God rescued Jonah and gave him a second chance just like He wanted to do for the people of Ninevah. 

We don’t know exactly what Jonah said to the people of Ninevah to get them to repent of their ways, but I would hope that his experience in the big fish played a part in some way.  God’s will is that no one should perish but have everlasting life with Him! What second chances has He given you? Were you drowning at some point in your life and God scooped you out of the depths of despair and set you on the right path?  Do you know someone who is at that point in their lives right now who could benefit from hearing your story?                 

Why not make it your prayer today that you will be aware of the needs of the people around you and for God to guide you in leading them to God so they, too, can have a second chance!

Pat Arnold