(Summary of the sermon: 27 Apr 2016)
THE WORSHIP LEADER
Back in the early days of our church ministry, I often had to double up as the worship leader and preacher. Even though I loved to sing, I was not gifted musically. However, our small group put up with my limited musical abilities; moreover God used it as a blessing. One day, a group of young people walked into our service. I was surprised to see them just stand by the side and not join in worshipping as I expected them to. I was offended!
Later on, that same evening I went to hear a great preacher’s Bible teaching. It was a big gathering. Imagine my shock and mortification when I saw the wonderfully talented worship team. It consisted of the bunch of young people who had come to my church service and whom I was offended by! I had taken pride in my worship leading style, when all along these youngsters were the real deal!
That day God humbled me. I acknowledged my limitation (musical gifting) and asked the Lord to send gifted musicians our way. And he did!
It is important for us to realize that making mistakes is sometimes inevitable. And that’s okay. But what we can’t afford to do is dwell on our mistakes. We need to be willing to acknowledge them, repent and turn to God. He will then be able to transform our mistakes into a blessing.
In that context let us look at a Bible passage.
POT OF STEW
And Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. Now the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” So one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, though they did not know what they were. Then they served it to the men to eat. Now it happened, as they were eating the stew, that they cried out and said, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
So he said, “Then bring some flour.” And he put it into the pot, and said, “Serve it to the people, that they may eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
2 Kings 4:38-41
A famine was raging across Gilgal. During that time, Elisha instructed the sons of prophets under his care to gather herbs and other ingredients from the forest to make a stew. Unfortunately, one of the men accidentally picked a poisonous plant and added it to the stew. As they ate it, they realized that the stew was poisonous. They cried out to Elisha! Elisha quickly took charge. He added some flour to the pot and miraculously the poison in the stew vanished. They resumed eating without any further mishap.
Sometimes just like the young man who caused the accident, we can also make mistakes. But when the hand of grace takes over our goof-ups, they can become the glory of God. The key thing however though, is that we acknowledge our mistakes and turn to God in repentance.
Let us quickly look at a couple of things about mistakes and miracles that we can learn from this above passage.
- LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
Mistakes can be the classroom where we learn what not to do the next time around. It is not only our mistakes that we can learn from, but also from that of others. So, this young prophet in the above passage would never ever use that poisonous plant to cook. In fact, he now would have become a smarter and better cook too!
Let me tell you a small story to explain this better. There was once a very smart bank cashier. One day he went up to the bank president and asked him how he had gotten into that position. He said that it was because of the good decisions he had made. The cashier asked him how he had made good decisions. The President replied that it was because of good experience. The cashier persisted and asked him how he had got good experience. He said that it was because of the bad decisions he had made. So you see, bad decisions or choices and mistakes can give us good experience, so that we turn around and make the right decisions.
- THERMOMETER THAT DEPICTS OUR CONDITION
We often limit the definition of sin to just ‘missing the mark’, but it is also a description of the condition that we are in. It is not just a oneoff mistake that we do, but also the attitude of deviousness and rebellion that we carry in our hearts. For example – the prodigal son in Luke 15 committed a lot of sins. But the elder son also sinned. Even though outwardly he seemed to have obeyed his father and stayed put at home, inwardly he was seething with bitterness and self-righteousness.
What do our lives look like today? What do our churches look like? Does the world consider it weak and powerless? If that is true,it is time that we in the church acknowledged our sins, repented and turned to God. We need to live in such a way that we can be powerful beacons to the world, not be steeped in sin.
- ALIENATION FROM GOD
Sin alienates us from God. So when we do not confess our sins then it separates us from God and causes trouble in our relationship. It destroys us. But when we turn around to God, He can turn every worthlessness and uselessness into a masterpiece.
- OCCASION TO SEE GOD’S MIRACLES
Mistakes are occasions for God to take over the situation and provide a way out. Whatever the situation is – finances, relationships, health or work–when we turn to God, we can see God coming through and moving mightily.
One of our church members testified the other day that when she first started coming to church, her life was broken. Slowly, as she heard God’s Word and applied it to numerous areas of her life she was amazed at the mighty miracles God did for her, including a wonderful marriage proposal.
Billy Graham once wrote a story about a couple of friends who had gone fishing. After their fishing trip, they went to a café to have tea. One of them was animatedly describing his fishing experience and accidentally upturned the tea tray that the waitress brought them. The tea splashed across the whitewashed wall of the café. The man started apologizing for the accident. One of the other guests at the café walked over to the wall, picked up a pen and drew a magnificent deer with horns around the brown tea stain on the wall. That was Sir Edward, a renowned artist. Apparently, today people from all over the world go to that little café to see the masterpiece.
When we turn over our mistakes to God, He is able to transform them into masterpieces.
Let me share one more real life incident in this regard. Many years ago, Anjali’s parents were on the lookout for alliances for her and her sister. Even though they asked her to come home to look at some proposals, she couldn’t make it. When she finally went home, her father was upset with her. She returned to Chennai and went for a prayer camp. She repented before God and acknowledged that she had goofed up on the alliances. God miraculously intervened and brought about our marriage.
Dear friends, don’t give up. Turn your mistakes over to God. It’s not too late. He who used Abraham at the age of 100, Moses at the age of 80 and Samuel at a tender age can do great things through us too if we are willing to humble ourselves before Him.
- GOD GETS THE GLORY
Our life is not about fulfilling our ambitions. It’s not about singing songs and saying that we will glorify Him. It’s about glorifying God by finishing the work that He has given us to do. We are called to rise against all odds and achieve our calling in life because Jesus Christ is our Lord.
The word for sin is ‘hamashia’. A few years ago, one of our members accidentally prayed that God would remove ‘shamaiya’ from our midst. He had meant all traces of sin but shamaiya was one of our church members. We all laughed about it later but his prayer is true. We need to get rid of all traces of sin from our lives.
In conclusion, let me share one more story. A man once visited a coal mine. All around the mine, everything was covered in black coal dust. But he spied one little plant that had a white flower. He wondered how the flower did not have any soot on it. He went close to the plant and put some coal dust on its petals. The petals couldn’t hold the dust; the dust flittered down. That’s when he realized that the petal had enamel on it that did not allow anything to stick to it.
How are our lives? Do we have the enamel of Jesus’ blood on us that will not allow anything to touch us? Or are we steeped in sin that we are rotting in it? Even if we have sinned, let’s not wallow in self-pity. Let’s turn to Jesus and He can transform our mistakes into miracles.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this message in the comments section below.