28330 Bermont Road Punta Gorda Fl    941-639-1700

Pastor's Message

Fear and Failure

April 2009

Dear Friends,

What a tremendous blessing it was to have Dr. Terry Mize with us for services. He is always bringing a Word from the Lord for us. One of the statements he said, that really stuck out to me was this; "Past failures will result in present fears". As I thought about this statement I remembered what the Apostle Paul said. It was recorded in the letter to the Philippians. In chapter three verse 13 he says, "....but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead."

We always think of Paul as the great Apostle, and certainly he was. But we seem to think that he never failed at anything. We think he was successful in everything he did. He did fulfill the call of God on his life. He accomplished reaching Rome to preach the Gospel. Yet, along the way he didn't always make the right choices, or approach things in a successful manner.

When Paul stood before Agrippa, he recounted the calling the Lord had given him. He told him the Lord sent him to preach to the Gentiles. Well, when Paul was first saved in Acts chapter 9, we see him going directly to the synagogue to proclaim Jesus. The Jews then plotted to do away with Paul, and his disciples sent him out by night to protect his life.

After leaving, he goes to Jerusalem and tries to associate with some disciples there. They were all afraid of him because of the harm he used to bring to the believers. Barnabas takes hold of him and brings him to the Apostles, and Paul relates to them what happened to him. He then goes around Jerusalem arguing with the people and they were looking to kill him. The brethren heard of it and brought him to Caesarea and sent him back to his home town of Tarsus. Then this statement is made in Acts 9:31, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

Paul, in his desire to preach Jesus, was not following the call of God in his life. He had single handedly, (even though he was sincere), given away the peace of the church. He was keeping the church from growing. After they sent him home, peace came back to the church, and it went on in the reverence of the Lord, and it continued to increase. Paul was like a typhoon that blew in, blew up, and blew out!!! And the peace and increase of the church was being swept away with it.

Paul, in his zeal was trying to convince, confirm, and collaborate the gospel he was preaching. Actually he wasn't preaching, he was trying to explain and argue the gospel. God has called us to preach the gospel, to be a witness of the gospel. We do not have to convince, collaborate, or confirm the truth of the gospel. God is able to do that Himself. If we will preach the 'good news' of the gospel, then God, by the Holy Spirit, will convince, confirm, and collaborate the truth to those that believe.

Well, considering the fact that Paul was sent away so the church could have some peace, I would think that could constitute the idea of failure. If Paul would have said, 'I'm just a failure, I tried but it didn't work', then that would have been the end of his ministry and calling of God.

But a time came when Barnabas found him at Tarsus and brought him to Antioch. Paul started growing, developing and increasing in the things of God. After a year, as they were praying, the Holy Spirit gave instruction to send out Paul and Barnabas to preach the gospel of the Kingdom. Paul could have looked back at the last time he did that. He could have thought, 'I tried that before and it didn't work.' He could have said, 'Barnabas, you go on and find someone else to go with you, I don't think I will be much help. After all you remember the last time you hooked up with me. Disastrous!'

It was time for Paul to forget those things that were behind and press forward to what was ahead. The vision was ahead of him. The places the Holy Spirit was sending him was ahead of him. The plans and purposes of God were ahead of him. He needed to press on. The word press, gives us the idea of something standing against us, trying to stop us. The biggest thing that tries to stop us is the remembrance of our past failures.

We have all failed at things. None of us are perfect. We all have our shortcomings and issues that we deal with. But you cannot allow past failures to become your present fears that keep you from pressing forward into your future. God has a plan and purpose for your life. Like Paul, it will come about while being a part of a local church, giving yourself to the ministry of the Holy Spirit there. All of our failures are past, we cannot change them. We have today to live. Today is a gift, that is why it is called the 'present!'

Make a choice today to leave your failures behind. Don't allow your yesterdays to control your todays. Now is the time of salvation, today is the acceptable time. Your future does not have to be determined by your past, but your future can be set by your todays. Forget the things that lie behind, it is time to press forward!!! You can do it. You serve a God who is more than enough!!!!

To you and your family I want to pass on the joys of the resurrection, as we celebrate the life giving Spirit of the Lord Jesus who loves us and delivered Himself up for us, that we may have life and life more abundantly!!!

Pastor Bob