New years. New beginnings. A time of change. A chance for a clean slate. Some of us will make goals, but not do anything at all. Some of us will actually try for a while. Some will stick to it and make new habits. We do this every new year. Why? Why do we really believe that change can actually happen? Why do so many of us have things we want to change? And why do we always try to do it on our own? People seem to think this is the only season to start building new habits.
So, we make resolutions and we build. And yet, sometimes, it still doesn't go as planned. So, what? Wait until the next New Year's rolls around? Well, what if we had access to a reset for our lives? What if Jesus was offering each and every one of us a chance to be renewed regardless of who you are, where you have been or what you have done? It's time for a restart; a redo. It's time to reset.
Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We are in a series called "Reset." And I try, as a pastor, to make sure if you're a visitor or maybe you've missed a couple of messages or maybe you just had a tough week and you might have been here for every single sermon I've done, but it's just been a tough week. I like to just bring everybody back up to speed as to what we're doing so that nobody feels like they're not involved. At the beginning of every year – and I call it a different series every year – I try to deal with the things that I feel are important for us as a church to get right.
In other words, sort of just to cast some vision as the pastor of the church and what we're doing as the church and why we're doing it. If you're visitors, it's always a great time to be a part because you sort of get to sort of know what we're doing and who we are. If you remember, three weeks ago I talked about our vision, which is to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. A couple weeks ago, I dealt with our mission and what it looks like to be Christians in 2017 and how that would apply in our lives. Last week, we looked at our roles. So, I've been dealing with what I would consider to be more of a corporate entity at this point. What we do together as a church. And what I'm going to do now is sort of turn the gear a little bit and we're going to deal with some individual things that I feel are really important for you and me to reset at the beginning of 2017.
Now, I can't tell you that my experience is the only experience. That would be crazy for me to say. I can only tell you, though, in my experience – and it may be flawed – as a pastor, as a professor, as a person, there's an area in people's lives and individual's lives that I think robs them of being all that they can be. And for me, it's one of the top three of all of the robbers and hindrances for you and me to do the things that God has called us to do. And that's the area of regret. So many people have regrets that keep them from being able to do what God wants them to do. And I want to deal with that this weekend.
In fact, I want to deal with that so much this weekend that I'm going to put out here a pretty bold statement. I think, if you'll lean in – those also watching via the internet and mobile app – and listen to what I have to say, I believe that you can walk out of here in a way far different than when you walked in. And I believe I can give you some tools that will help you deal with regret for the rest of your life. I believe many of you can leave regret here on the sanctuary floor and walk out of here free. I know that's a bold statement, but I do believe that I have a bold message.
And I want to ask you this, because we all know those regrets. We all know the "I wish I wouldn't have done that or been there or seen that person." You know? We see the lists when people are on their death bed. "I wish I would've spent more time with the family. I wish I wouldn't have worked as hard. I wish I would've made some phone calls that I didn't make."
Every single one of us has those areas in our life where we have some regrets. Let me ask you this question: What if you could get past those areas of regret in your life? What type of abundance and peace and joy and intimacy with God could we all have? Well, I want to try my best to have you leave here today not dealing with regret. Again, not that you won't have them, but you'll know how to deal with them in a proper way that will give you the ability to move forward in 2017 to be all that God wants you to be. Does that sound like a fairly decent sermon? Maybe 25 or 30 minutes? If I get really good, 50? No. Some of y'all are like, "Fifty? Come on now, Bennett."
Okay. So, here's what I want you to do. I want you to look up here. I want to read you a story. A story out of the Bible. And I want to use it sort of as my launching pad into dealing with regret. Many of you will know this story. If you've never been in church before or maybe you're new, you might not know it. But, I'll cue you in so that you're aware, because I try to reach everybody here. But, let's read along here with this story. It's out of Genesis 3.
It says, "The serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?'"
Now, if you've read Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, you know that God didn't tell them they couldn't eat of any tree in the garden. He said, "You can eat of any tree in the garden, you just can't eat of one."
So, this is a little bit of a twist here on what God has said.
Then it says, "The woman said to the serpent," – and again, if you've read Genesis 1 and 2, you should know that man and woman were created to have dominion over the animals of the field and here we have her treating the animal as a peer. So, you should be knowing something's not right here in this picture.
"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.''"
Now, you should also know, if you've read Genesis 1 and 2, that God never said if you touch it you would die, He said that if you would eat it, you would die. And at this point, if you're really a good, astute reader, you ought to be going, "Where's Adam? Where's he at? He's the guy that got the download from God. Where's he at? What's he doing?"
Well, we'll find him here in a minute. Let's continue on in the story.
"But the servant said to the woman, 'You're not going to die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes are going to be opened, and you will be like God, you'll know both good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband..." – where's Adam? – "...who was with her."
Dude. What are you doing? Where were you at? You didn't even speak up. And he ate. Alright?
"Then the eyes of both were opened."
All of a sudden, something changed. Innocence was lost and all of a sudden they realized they were naked. All of a sudden, some shame hit in, some guilt hit in and they started to do what most of us do when there's shame and guilt and regret. They sewed some fig leaves together and made themselves some loincloths. In other words, they were going to cover that up. And you could imagine Adam. He experienced all the three types of regret that there are. And you may not know that there's three types of regret. But, there are. Let's look at them.
The first one is the regret of action. All of us have had those. Adam gets all three in one fell swoop. Listen to this. He says, "Man, I can't believe I just did that." Eve, same thing. "I can't believe I just did that."
Many of us have had those moments in our lives where we go, "I can't believe I just did that. I can't believe I bought that car. I can't believe I went to that bar that night. I can't believe that I didn't make that phone call. I can't believe that I said that to my spouse."
Something that we regret that we did. That's a regret of action. There's also a regret of inaction. And that's the "what might have been." Many of us have had those moments in our lives. Adam does. You can know Adam's sitting there going, "What would have happened if I would have said something? What would have happened if I would have said no? What would have happened if I would have said, 'Get out of here, Serpent?' But I didn't."
And many of us have those regrets where we have the inaction. "What I should have done and I didn't do it. I can't believe I didn't do it. I should've made that phone call, but I didn't. And because I didn't, I regret it."
I've got a good story here. My dad was a dentist and he's retired now. But, my dad had a dental office at one time and he had a bunch of dentists working underneath him. And one of his dentist friends came to him and he said, "Now, Dr. Bennett, I've got this idea here. What do you think? I don't know anything about this restaurant. It's sort of a start-up. It's called Outback. And I can buy stock in the Outback restaurant for 10 cents a share. What do you think?"
My dad said, "You don't want to buy restaurant stock. That's a bad investment."
So, there you go. Don't listen to dentists for your stock advise. Okay? More importantly, don't listen to my dad. He had too much gas in that office. Anyway, this guy had an inaction. He's not here today, so I can really tee off on him. I remember when I was a kid, my dad's bald on top. I was like, "Dad, I'm going to give you a comb for your birthday. You'll never part with it."
Anyway, the inaction. What might have been. We've all had those moments where we're like, "Man, I wish I would've done this."
And then there is the regret of reaction. That's when somebody's done something to you that you regret. Maybe somebody abused you. Maybe somebody neglected you. Maybe somebody said something. And that's a tough one, because we're regretting what's been done to us. So, all of these things are types of regret. But, what are we doing, ultimately, when we do regret? What's going on inside of us? What are sort of the things that we're dealing with?
Here's what we're doing: We're evaluating the past in light of the present. Every single one of us has done something wrong at some point that we didn't get busted for and we didn't really regret it. It's when we get busted and the consequences show up that all of a sudden we start regretting it. That's why we always tell the youth, "Hey, before you do something, think about what the consequences might be down the road. Because, when you get here and it's ugly, you're going to start evaluating this in light of this and it's not going to be very good."
The problem is this is what we do when we regret, but it's not really what we should be doing. Because, here's the problem with this: We know stuff here that we didn't know here. And oftentimes, the stuff that we know here, we read back into here. And half the times it's irrational. I've heard people sit in my office and go, "I regret this. And because I did this, this is what happened."
I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. All of those dominos didn't necessarily fall down because of what you did. But, you're evaluating the past in light of the present. And sometimes what you know in the present is way more than what you know in the past. And because you know all that knowledge, you're now sort of reading that back into that moment. That's not the way you should do it."
We've got to do proper evaluation of the past in light of the present. That's the only way that we can deal with regret. Unfortunately, you and I have been crafted in a world that's fallen. We've seen other people do it. The way we do regret, as a general rule, is the wrong way. Which means there's a right way to do regret and there's a wrong way to do regret. I want to first show you the wrong way, the way that you and I normally do it, which is why we don't get over it. Even though maybe time goes on and we're still just dealing with it and then something happens and it's like right back where it was. You know?
Maybe you've had a bad relationship or gone through a divorce or had a bad relationship with a son or daughter, your mom and dad. Or maybe you've made some bad financial decisions or maybe you did something one night that you regret. But, the bottom line is you push it away, push it away, push it away and then you sort of deal with it. As time goes by, it's not as bad. And then something happens and it's right back there again. And we all know that feeling. We all know that's how it works.
But, that's not the way we're supposed to deal with it. So, I want to show you how we deal with it, which is wrong, and then I want to show you how we should deal with it, which is right. So, here's the first truth axiom for everybody:
Regret will always be our enemy when we approach it wrong.
In other words, there is a right way to approach it and there is a wrong way to approach it. Bottom line is simply that. I absolutely guarantee regret will be our enemy when we approach it wrong. Now, psychologists have shown us this. This is called the "Sorry Cycle." I'm not Dr. Phil, I'm Dr. Chip. But, I'm going to be a psychologist here for a second. This is the way psychologists say we deal with regret, and I think they're partially right. I'm going to add my understanding of the Bible here in just a minute, but I think most of us will go, "Man, that's exactly what happens."
We do something – whether it's an action, an inaction or a reaction – and we regret it at some level. And what happens is because we regret it, all of a sudden we start doing that tape of gong, "I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I didn't do that. I can't believe he did that to me."
Whatever that may be. And we start rehashing it. And man, it's just terrible. It's horrible when we're going through those emotions. And then what happens is as we're rehashing it, we start to develop a longing. And this longing is, "I want to get rid of this feeling. I want this feeling to go away. This feeling is terrible. It is my enemy and I want it to go away. And I'm going to do anything I can to get rid of that regret."
And those longings start to develop in us, which means we start regretting again and we start rehashing again and we start longing again in the Sorry Cycle, and that's when we do what I think the Bible suggests that I would add to this particular Sorry Cycle is this: We do regret, we start rehashing, we start longing, but we think that we can deal with our enemy on our own. And what we do is we start putting time and energy into things that we create to try to get rid of the longings. And those are biblically called idols. And idol is anything that gets you and I's time and energy that should be reserved for God only.
All of a sudden, we start working harder. All of a sudden, we start drinking at night. All of a sudden, we start going to the gym more. All of a sudden, we start doing all kinds of things. Maybe we start serial dating. Maybe we take up some other habits. And the sorry part of it is that, even as Christians, we do the same thing. Because, we want to get rid of regret so bad. It's our enemy and we want to push it away. We'll even try to use God to get into the mix of our life so that we can push that thing away. God doesn't join in to the DVD and the 10-step book and all of that stuff. God's either in our He's out, and what we do is we convince ourselves because we want to get rid of this emotion so bad. It's our enemy. And we're tired of dealing with it and we're tired of rehashing it and we're tired of having those feelings at night that nobody else knows what's going on in our life. And we're going to do anything that we can to get rid of this. And what we do is we form idols.
And Paul knew that we would do that. Paul knows that when we're talking about God, man, when you serve God, it's got to be all in. God's not like half in. He's not your copilot. If you've got that on the back of your car, you don't need to go peel it off. I'm not getting mad at you. I'm just telling you that He's not your copilot. He's not your homeboy. He's not that. He's God. Now, He's your friend, but He's God. And sometimes we think He's too much friend and a little less God. He's God first and then He's friend second. He's God. And God doesn't share His glory with anybody else. But, we have a hard time – because we're selfish by nature – laying it all down to God. So, what we do is we know there's a God, but we'd like to do it our own way. We want to do our own thing. Paul talks about that in Romans 1. He says, "This is what we do. Claiming to be wise, we become fools and we exchange the glory of God for images; for things that we can hold onto."
Christians sometimes will get so caught up and spend their energy on people. You know, that people are going to be the savior or people are going to be the devil, or whatever. And they'll spend time and energy, and that's an idol. Because, you're spending all that time and energy on that rather than God. Or, in that world, birds, animals and creeping things. For you and me, that's houses and jobs and clothes and success that we get caught up in that are idols. And we do this. We want so bad to get that enemy out of our life that we'll do whatever we can. But, it doesn't work. And we all know that. Every single person in here knows. Those watching via the internet and the mobile app, you know. It's like, "I want to get rid of that regret. I have that regret. I shouldn't have done that. They shouldn't have done that to me. I should've acted and I didn't. And I don't know what to do. I'm in this cycle and I'm constantly grabbing for everything I can grab and it's not working."
That's because we're doing it the wrong way. The second truth axiom, which is huge for you and me to understand: We've got to learn to repurpose our energy that we're spending in that Sorry Cycle to make regret our friend. You go, "No, no. No, no. What I did was bad."
I didn't say it wasn't bad.
"What I did was pure evil."
I didn't say it wasn't evil. Joseph said what his brothers did to him was pure evil. But, God turned it for good. There's something about God being involved that can take the bad and somehow make it good. What if through the lens you decided regret was not your enemy that you're fighting about, but was somehow a friend or a different approach to it?
Let me explain this to you. If you came over to my house, "Alright, Pastor Chip, it's cold outside."
I've got a heater on my pool.
You're like, "That's great, man. Let's go swimming."
I'd go, "Great."
Next thing you know, we're in the pool and I take your head and I put you under the water. You're probably thinking, "Is he trying to baptize me? I got baptized once before. What's going on here?"
Well, after about 10 seconds you're going to start going, "This is not a baptism. There's something going on here that's not good. I mean, I may have a lot of sins, but I need to come up. You can't hold me under that long without a snorkel."
You know? So, you're holding down and all of a sudden you're going to start going, "You know what? I need to sort of start kicking this guy or doing something to this guy, because the water is not my friend right now. Because, if I suck that water in, it's not going to be good. I wasn't planning on meeting Jesus in Pastor Chip's pool. I don't want to do this."
Now, let me fast forward here. What about if you were in the desert for two days and you hadn't had anything to drink and good old Pastor Chip brings out a nice bottle of water? That water's going to be your friend, isn't it? Because see, it's a different approach. It's a different vantage point. And God's given you and me the ability to have differences in the way we approach things. So, check this out: Regret doesn't have to punish us with what we did wrong, but can remind us that we know we can do better. God gave you the emotion of regret not to be your enemy, but we don't know any better. That's just the way we deal with it. God says, "No, no, no, no, no. I want you to deal with it differently. I gave you that emotion not for you to beat yourself up. I gave you that emotion for it to push you on the inside towards me so that you could start to work with what you have done wrong or what someone has done wrong to you and you can use that to be transformed by my power."
Which means that you and I will never be able to deal with our regret in our own strength. We have to get God involved. God has to be the one that we turn to. And God's pretty specific. He says, "If you're trying to save your life, you're going to lose it. If you lay down your life, you'll find it."
And unfortunately, many of us, when it comes to regret, even as Christians, we want to pull God into the mix, but we're not laying it all down to God in the mix. And here's the beauty of God. These are the greatest "get out of jail free cards" for all of us. God can do something that nobody else can do, and that is bring redemption. You can't do that. I can't redeem myself. God can bring redemption.
Let me explain how redemption works in the original language. The word "redemption" means simply this, this is the image of it: That you and I are in prison. We can shake those gates, we can kick the dust on the ground, we can punch the rock, but we can't get out. We have no ability to get out. God comes along and pays for you and me to be purchased from that prison. That's why Paul says, "You've been bought with a price."
Redemption is God doing what you and I can't do. But, here's the beauty: Not only does God redeem us from our life of sin, God can redeem regrets as well. Because, God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you and I could ever ask or think. God can bring redemption. And when you realize that God can bring redemption, you're now able to look at regret no longer as an enemy, but as a friend that you can learn from. And it goes like this: God gets involved. Not some God or a little bit of God and some DVDs and a book, but God is fully involved and He brings redemption that only He can bring. And because of that redemption, you can start to look at what you've done and how you've done that or what someone's done to you, and you can learn to grow from it.
And I know some of you are going to say, "Yeah, but somebody did something so bad to me that there's no way God could redeem it."
Really? You don't think God could give you a ministry out of that to work with other people that have gone through the same thing? God can redeem every single thing that has happened to our life no matter how evil they are, no matter how bad they are, no matter if we did it or someone else did it. God is a God of redemption. And when you understand He's a God of redemption, you understand that you can grow, I can grow, we can grow together learning for that. Which brings us to a place of wholeness, which is what God wants for you and me.
God wants you and me to be whole. He wants us to live that way. I'll give you an example. You say, "Well, I made a really bad financial decision."
You can just let that be your enemy and you can fight it and kick it and everything else. Or you can go, "Hey, you know what? God can do something in my life with my finances."
And if we really get honest, what we really want is we just want God to do the zap and we're done. You didn't learn anything is He does the zap. You learn with progress. All of a sudden you see that and you go, "Hey, I made that and that was a really bad decision that I made. But, God's a redeeming God. God can teach me and grow me and move me to a place of wholeness in this area."
Maybe relationships. Maybe you're really bad with relationships. God can transform you. See, the grace of God doesn't just meet us where we are and then leave us there. The grace of God meets us where we are and wants to transform us into looking more and more like Jesus and having more of a holistic life in our life. So, here's the deal: The change happens when we stop looking for our betterment. See, as long as you're looking at regret as an enemy, it's all about you and me.
"If I could just get over this. If I could just..."
Notice there the "I, I, I. If I could. If I could. If I could. It's all about me."
Change happens when we stop looking for our betterment and we start looking to God. Because, when we do that what happens is this: It isn't about a new and better life that we want and dream for ourselves, but learning the better life that God wants and dreams for you. There's a major, major change when this starts to happen in our lives. But, we're humans and we need to understand something. There's always going to be a way that seems right. We're always going to want to default back. We're always going to want to default. And we do. We like this idea of what's right. What's right when somebody smacks you on the cheek? What's right is to smack them back. That is not the righteous thing to do, though. The righteous thing to do is to turn the other cheek. And we so confuse right and what we want with what God wants for us in the life that He wants and dreams for us.
What happens when somebody steals your coat? You go hunt them down and get 'em, right? That's the right thing. What's the righteous thing? Give them your shirt. You go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm not in for that, man."
That's where it's at. See, are you really going to do God or are you not going to do God? See, we love God as Savior, we just don't like Him as Lord. Let me say that again. We like God as Savior. "Oh, grace, baby. He loves me. Oh, man. Yeah. Yeah, that Lord part? I've got to go do what You want me to do? Yeah, I don't like that, because that doesn't seem right. What seems right is that I want to do what I want to do and sort of get You involved on my train to make what I want."
Think about the difference there that that makes. Now, knowing that and knowing that we can now view this in a different way, I want to tell you a story here. Because, in just a minute we're going to look at some steps out of regret. Normally I do take-homes. These are called steps out of regret. But, I need to tell you a story that probably almost everybody in here knows. But, I need to tell it again.
A young Jewish boy went to his dad. He said, "Dad, I wish you were dead because I want what's mine now."
See, the only way for him to get his inheritance was for his dad to be dead. If you're reading that story right, he's got an issue with his dad.
"Dad, I want what's mine now and I want you dead."
His dad is so loving that he sells half of his estate and gives it to this young man. This young man can't even see the lovingness of his dad. He just wants what's his. It's all about him. He leaves. He spends all of it. Every single penny. The bad part is that a famine hits after he's broke. He finds himself having to live with the pigs, which would be about the worst position a young Jewish boy could ever be in. And in that moment somewhere, as he's there with the pigs, he has this realization: "You know what? My dad is really not a bad guy. Because, even the people that work for him are better than this. He treats his people pretty good. Man, I've got a lot of regret. I've done a lot of things. So, let me rehearse my speech that I'm going to give my dad and let me start walking."
We'll pick that up in a minute, because the steps out of regret will come from this story. Here are the steps. If you've got a sheet of paper, if you've got a pad where you're writing stuff down, write these things down. Because, regret's no longer your enemy because God is a redeeming God. Regret is your friend. You're going to learn from this. Here's the steps out of regret.
First of all, we have to recognize it. See, we've grown up in a world where we only know regret as our enemy. So, what we've learned and our souls have been formed in is this idea that regret is my enemy and since it's my enemy and it never goes away and I can't fight it – because you can't fight it and I can't fight it in my own strength – it's never going to be won, because that regret feeling is to push you and me towards God to see His redemption. As long as we're fighting it, we're going to push it away, push it away, push it away and what we've learned is we've learned how to make our emotions calloused to the things that we do to not even deal with the regret.
This young man came to himself. There was a moment where he had a realization. "I know what I've done. I've come to myself. I've realized."
Unfortunately, many of us go to denial, we go to suppression and we go to distractions to try to push the regret away. We don't want to deal with it. We don't want to deal with what somebody did to me or what I've done or what I should've done. The would've, could've, should've. I don't want to deal with it. I'm going to deny it, act like it didn't happen or I'm going to suppress it or I'm going to find distractions. I'm going to go hit the bottle a little bit at night. Or what I'm going to do is I'm going to start serial dating or I'm going to work a little bit harder or I'm going to do something because I don't want to have to deal with what's going on. I don't want to deal with it. Because, when I deal with it, it's my enemy and I can't beat it. So, I've just learned how to push it away. Because it's your enemy. But, it's not. It can be your friend through the power of God.
And all of a sudden I can recognize and own, "Yeah, that person did this to me. They shouldn't have done this. Or yes, I did this. This is what I did. I shouldn't have said this to my spouse. I shouldn't have done this with my boy. I should've made that phone call. I didn't do that. I wish I would've done this."
All of a sudden you go, "I'm owning it. I'm coming to myself and I'm owning it. I'm recognize my regret."
Second thing is because it's not my enemy anymore and I can name it, I can start looking for lessons, which is really important. Because, God gave you that emotion to show you that you can do better. You don't have to live that way because He's a redeeming God with grace. You can look for lessons. The young man says, "How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread?"
Check out those words. "More than enough." Not just "enough." "My father's a good man. He gives his people that work for him more than enough. I'm learning something."
And what we have to learn is what did I learn from this? When I spent my money this way or I didn't make that phone call or somebody did something to me, what can I learn from this? What can I see from this? What can I take home from this? What patterns do I see? This is huge. Many of us deal in the same area of regret over and over again. It's like it's so bad. What we don't do is because it's our enemy, we don't recognize it and own it and we don't go, "What can I learn from it, what can I take from it? What patterns do I see? You know what? Man, every time I do that, this is what happens. Every time I watch this, this is what happens. Every time I flip on this, that's where I go ballistic. What patterns do I see where I'm constantly dealing with this regret that maybe somebody else did and I'm fired up or somebody did to me or I did to them? What patterns do I see? Can I learn something from this? Can I learn the way I'm spending my money? Can I learn the way I'm treating my spouse? Can I learn to make those phone calls? Why am I not doing these things that are causing me all of this regret? Are there patterns?"
And you can learn to look at the past through the lens of growing rather than groaning. Man, this is better preaching than you all are letting on. Because, this is some freeing stuff here. Let me tell you something here: You can't roll back time, but God allows for do-overs. Thank God He lets us press the reset button. His grace is there in your weakness, in your despair, in your misery. His grace is sufficient for whatever need and problem you and I have. It can't go back. You can do a do-over. You can learn again. "I'm not going to do that again because I learned something from it."
Not only that, but we have to take action. This is one of the things that we struggle with. You know, we just want to go, "Okay. Yeah. I got a lesson. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to sit here and just go, 'Okay, God. Pour it out on me.'"
It doesn't work that way. The young man took action. The Bible's clear. It says, "He arose. He got up and he started making a journey."
Here's the questions I have for all of us. What conversations do we need to have? Do we need to call somebody that did something to us and say, "Hey, you know what? I'm not going to do the right thing and tell them how terrible they are. I'm going to do the righteous thing and say, 'I forgive you.' I'm trying to move past it."
What conversation do you need to have with somebody else, maybe? Maybe somebody you did wrong. Maybe a spouse or an ex-spouse. Maybe a son or a daughter, a father or a mother. We've got to take action and step out. You know, Peter walked on the water because he stepped out. Everybody else didn't. Take some action. What conversation do I need to have?
How about this one? What boundaries do I need to set? How about that one? You go, "You know what? I learned all these patterns when I started looking at the lessons that I'm learning from all of this regret. And I've learned that I do the same thing every time and end up here. Maybe what I need to do is put some boundaries up so I don't go there or so I don't talk to them that way or so I don't act like that or so I don't put myself in a position for them to do it to me again."
But see, you won't look at it that way if regret's your enemy. It's got to be your friend because God can redeem it. And not only that, but who can I ask for help? Maybe I can reach out to somebody and say, "Hey, I'm struggling in this area. Is there any way you can help me? Is there any way you could help me out on this thing?"
Because, what we're learning is we're learning that it can be our friend. Not that what happened to us or what we did or didn't do was good, but because God is a redeeming God, He can take the evils and He can turn them into good. He can take our suffering and lead it to glory. Paul says, in Romans 8:18, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that's going to be revealed in you and me."
God is a God who can take those things and make them different. So now, we can take action. Because, reaction leaves us stuck and we're really good as people to react to everything. Just look at your life. We usually react. What we're not good at is being proactive to move us forward. Get out of some of that stuff. Don't watch it. Don't listen to it. Just move away from it. Don't react. Be proactive. Take a step. Take some action. Get out of all that stuff. It's not your enemy anymore. It's your friend.
And lastly, let God release His redemption. Many of you have been walking down that long, dusty road for years carrying that regret. I'm going to ask you to do something and to see something. That young boy, with all of the regret, walking home and thinking of his speech that he's going to say to his dad, he looks up and he can't believe what he sees. He sees his dad running to him. Not walking. Not turning his back. Running to meet his son. And his son's trying to get out the lines, but the dad says, "Go kill the fatted calf."
Why would he kill the fatted calf? You don't need a calf to feed two brothers. He kills the calf because he's going to bring the whole community to his house and bring redemption to his son by letting everybody in the community that knew his son wanted him dead and left has now been restored and him and his son are good. So that everybody in town knows, kill the fatted calf and bring everybody.
"Hey, and by the way, get that robe and sandals on, because I don't want anybody around here that's a servant somehow thinking this isn't my son. And on top of it, go get the ring. Go get the family ring, because the family ring has the seal and I need him to be able to transact business again on behalf of the family, because I'm restoring him in complete redemption."
That's who your Heavenly Father is. That's who God is. You do not, I do not, have to look at regret ever again as an enemy. I can look at it through a different light because I know that the God who put the stars in the sky and created the earth, He can do in me what He did everywhere else. He can redeem the things that I've done wrong or the things that people have done wrong in my life. He can redeem it and make something better out of it, and I don't have to live in regret ever again.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the truth of Your Word. God, I pray right now in Jesus' name that there would be some regrets that are just dropped on this floor right here in this sanctuary, not to be picked up again in the fight and the struggle that it's been, but to be able to say, "My God is a God who can redeem and He can redeem these things and I can learn from them and I can start walking in the wholeness that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross to live in."
God, make that so in the life of our church. Lord, make it so in the life of those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. Lord, help us to reset in our lives this understanding of regret so that we can march into 2017 not held back by any hindrance of regret, but march forward to be kingdom people that can walk out of here going to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.
Lord, I pray that You would go with us as we leave, that You would watch over us and protect us. I pray that You would continue to guide us and lead us. And I pray, God, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again so that we can continue to reset so that we can make 2017 the best year that we've ever had with You for Your glory and for Your honor. We thank You for it in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "Amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.