Points Covered: This message ‘How to overcome failure; is a great inspirational sermon on how we can turn our failures into success? Your failure is not final. Continue reading and be the person God intended you to be.
Have you ever failed at something that meant a lot to you? Have you ever felt like being in the pit where your hopes & dreams have crushed? In life, we all may come across failures; failures like athletic, academic, financial, career, social or personal failure. Virtually everyone has wrestled or some failures in life or maybe some of you are wrestling now with failures.
Anyone God used has gone through their bit of failures and disappointments. An example of that is the apostle Peter. In the upper room on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. But Peter said, “Lord, even if all fall away…I never will.” ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ Matthew 26:35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Well, you know what happened. That night Jesus was betrayed and taken to the house of the High Priest for a series of illegal trials. Peter follows, and soon we see him sitting by a fire in the High Priest’s courtyard. A serving girl recognizes him & says, “‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied it before them all, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.”
Three times Peter is confronted with the accusation, “You were with Jesus. You’re one of His followers!” And 3 times Peter denies knowing who Jesus is. Peter did exactly what he said he would never do, and right then the rooster crowed. Remembering Jesus’ words, Peter ran out into the darkness & wept bitterly. He had failed Jesus.
Now, let’s fast forward a few weeks to John 21. By this time, Jesus died and has been resurrected from the dead. Peter has seen Him. But Peter’s failure is still consuming him on the inside. He feels that he has failed and thinks he will never bounce back from that failure.
So what does he do? He and the rest of the apostles leave Jerusalem & go back home to Galilee. Guess what Peter is doing now? He is out in a boat, fishing. John 21:1-3 1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Peter has gone back to doing what he knows best how to do.
That often happens when people are troubled. A guitarist goes to the guitar and expresses his mood in her playing. Some play out or work out and gets off their frustrations. And Peter gets in a boat and fishes all night long.
We have all been in this boat called failure a few times in our life, haven’t we? You must understand that Jesus comes to you when you are without hope and are in the boat called failure. John 21:4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. God is right in your circumstances. In the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, we learn how to cope with our failures.
There are 3 things we need to do to bounce back from failure. The first is to learn from it. One thing in Peter’s favor, at least, was that he could admit that he failed. Some people can’t seem to be able to do that.
Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Another version says, “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful.”
Illustration: The Titanic is one of the most famous failures in history. The designers & builders were certain the Titanic was one ship that would never sink. It was the largest ship ever built, and its 26,000-ton hull was believed indestructible. As the Titanic was leaving port on its maiden voyage, a passenger, Mrs. Albert Caldwell, asked an employee, “Is this ship really unsinkable?” He answered, “Yes, lady, God Himself could not sink this ship.”
No one ever anticipated the nightmare that occurred when, at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912; this unsinkable ship struck an iceberg & sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic, taking over 1,500 people down with it to a watery grave.
Even after the Titanic hit the iceberg and was starting to sink, many of the people on board refused to believe that there was a problem. Bands continued playing and passengers were still dining because they were convinced there was no possible way the ship could sink. They couldn’t accept the idea that they were in any danger.
There are many people who will never admit their sins or the danger they’re in. They continue in their mistakes and the end is disaster. The Bible says: Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ” We’re all sinners and we need a savior when we fail.
Now I think getting back into boat and fishing was a good thing for Peter because he failed again there. Friends, if you run away from your failure without God, understand you are running into another failure. They whole night these experienced fishermen caught nothing. It gave him time to reflect, to think about the past & learn some lessons from it.
You see, one of the greatest benefits of failure is what you learn from it that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Illustration: Before Jonas Salk came up with a successful vaccine for polio, his first 200 attempts didn’t work. Someone asked him how it felt to fail 200 times. He said, “I didn’t fail 200 times. I just discovered 200 ways not to make a vaccine for polio.”
Walt Disney approached 301 banks before one was willing to fund the Disney Land project.
Jim Denny, manager of the Grand Old Opry, once fired a young singer after just one performance & told him, “You ain’t a goin’ nowhere, Elvis.”
Proverbs 20:30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings spurge the inmost being. Sometimes it takes a failure to bring the best in us.’The truth is, most of us don’t change our ways when we see the light. We change our ways when we feel the heat: When the marriage starts falling apart, or there is a problem with our job or health. You see, pain and failure is God’s megaphone. God shouts to us through our pain.
Simon Peter was a bigtime failure. He was in a lot of pain out there in that boat. But that was okay because pain gets our attention. Pain can lead us to make important changes. And if we’re willing to humble ourselves & learn from our mistakes, we will be well on our way toward recovering from our failures.
So, to recover from failure we must, first, learn from it and second, rise above your circumstance. Now, as Jesus shows up on the shore, Peter realizes it is Jesus, he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. Minutes later the two of them are sitting by the fire. The smell of fresh fish is in the air and Peter is looking directly into the face of forgiveness.
You see, any of us can get stuck in the past, living a life filled with regrets. ” If only I had done this, if only I hadn’t done that, if only I could go back & relive that event.”
It’s the “If only…” statements that trouble so many people about the Titanic tragedy. “If only the Titanic had heeded one of the 6 warnings it received about icebergs. If only it had been a moonlit night and they had seen the iceberg earlier. “If only her watertight bulkheads had been one deck higher. If only there had been enough lifeboats for everybody.” If only one of those things had happened, every life might have been saved.
We all have these “if onlys” in our past, and they will paralyze us if we don’t learn to let go of them. Eventually, there comes a point where, after we have learned our lessons, we have to get out of the boat, rise above our circumstances look in the face of the one who can forgive our failures.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Maybe you have some failure in your past & you think, “I don’t see how God could forgive me.” But God specializes in forgiving & in giving fresh starts to people who have failed.
He forgave Moses the murderer. He forgave Noah who once got drunk. He forgave Rahab, the prostitute. He forgave David, an adulterer.
Listen, none of us would be here today if failure was a disqualification, because we have all made mistakes. Peter discovered that you must learn from your failures, let go of them, and rise up from your circumstances. So, Peter gets out of the boat & comes face to face with Jesus.
3. Move – Hope lies ahead.
Then Jesus asks him this question three times, “Peter, do you love me?” And after a rather painful personal examination, Peter says back three times, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love You.”
It is at that point that Jesus said something I don’t think Peter ever expected to hear, He said, “Peter, feed my sheep.”
Peter recovered from his failure, & then became one of the greatest success stories in history. He was a greatly used in the first church, preached with boldness and spread the gospel around the globe. The one who thought God was done with him went on to be a valuable worker in advancing the kingdom of God. And the world will never forget Peter. But if peter was dwelling in all his failures, he could never be used by God. Today, somebody got to rise and move because hope lies ahead. God believes in you.
There is something powerful in knowing that someone believes in you, someone loves you unconditionally, failures & all.
Illustration: There is a Spanish story of a father & son who had a deep split in their relationship. The son ran away & the father spent months searching for him, with no results. Finally, in a last ditch effort to find his son the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.”
On Saturday nearly 800 Pacos showed up. All looking for forgiveness, looking for love, looking for the approval of their father.
You know, after you have failed it is so much easier to face the future when you know there is someone who loves you & who believes in you. There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. There is no failure that can make Him stop caring about us.
That may be hard for some to believe because are living in a performance based world where once you fail you lose, you are out of the game. The world tells us, “If I fail I am worthless. I must get the ‘A’s. I must make the grade. I must do the right thing to be accepted and to be valuable, to matter.” But God says, “You are valuable to me whether you succeed or fail. You matter to me, & that is why I sent my Son.”
Conclusion: Proverbs 24:16 For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Proverbs 4:12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Proverbs 4:25-27 25Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
God has a great future for you. Many times it is our thinking that limits God. You may be sitting here with a failure but we can recover from our failures if we will first learn from them. Then rise up from your circumstances and thirdly move forward because hope lies ahead.
Philippians 3:13 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
Isaiah 43:18-19 18“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.