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From Regret To Restoration Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
August 9, 2022 1:00 am

From Regret To Restoration Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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August 9, 2022 1:00 am

We often ponder, “How different would my life be, if only…?” Peter denied Christ, amassing a load of guilt too deep for words. In this message from Luke 22, we identify four incentives which move us closer to Christ regardless of the guilt we carry. No matter how horrible our mistakes have been, it is possible to be brought from regret to restoration.

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Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

If you lose a crucial race, you might be tempted to quit, but a good coach helps you pick up the pieces and run again. Peter faltered as he ran, amassing a load of guilt too deep for words. Today, how Christ restored a man consumed with regret. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.

In our series on the life of Peter, we've come to a dramatic point, Peter's denial of Christ before the crucifixion. Dr. Lutzer will see a man crushed by deep regret, a man later restored to a place of usefulness. Dave, this is a wonderful story, not that we delight in Peter's failure, but we certainly delight in his restoration. And I believe that this message is going to be of tremendous blessing to many people who listen because all of us need restoration during different periods of our life. And I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win because this message is going to be heard by thousands upon thousands of people because of people just like you helping us. We're in the midst of what we call a matching gift.

You can go to, find out all about it, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let's take hope in the midst of failure. I think it was John Greenleaf Whittier who said, for all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, it might have been. I suppose that all of us know that the might-have-beens of life have a way of catching up with us, the regrets of life. Some of the regrets that we have come to us because of the fact that we make honest mistakes, just human frailty.

I think of Craig Nimmo who was a mechanic for Wycliffe fixing an airplane and as he was turning a bolt with his hands, someone called to him and because he was distracted he forgot to make sure that that bolt was tight and when the plane was in the air it lost gasoline, caught on fire, and seven people were killed and he attended the funeral of those seven men and here were seven brand new widows sitting there and he knew that it was his mistake that had caused the accident. Imagine living with that kind of grief and regret. That kind of regret, however, is not brought on by the Holy Spirit of God. It is the natural regret that all of us face when we've made a mistake and it's hard for us to forgive ourselves. There are other kinds of regret that people have. It's the regret that you may have as you look through a family album and you look back to the days when you were a child and you see the swing in the backyard and now with all of the decisions of life upon you and the disintegration of your family and the problems that you have brought upon yourself, you say to yourself, oh, if only it could have been different. If only I had not made that mistake. If only there had not been all of these wrong choices and sins.

How different my life would have been. It's the regret that we often live with. And yet I want you to know today that it is possible to be brought from regret to restoration. It is possible to be brought from the circumferences of God's blessing to the very middle of the will of God for your life. And I want to say to those of you today who are skeptical, who are not walking closely with Jesus, that he'll receive you where you are, pick up the pieces, and as long as you live, have something in life for you to do.

And that's why I've entitled this message, Moving From Regret to Restoration. And if you come to Moody Church regularly, you may know that this happens to be number nine in a series of messages on the life of Peter. And so I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the 22nd chapter of Luke, Luke chapter 22, where Peter himself went through a tremendous amount of regret. All of us know that in the night in which Jesus Christ was betrayed, Peter boasted too much, he prayed too little, he acted too soon, he followed too far, and he thought too late.

Mark says that when he began to realize what he had done and the way in which he had betrayed Jesus, when he thought thereon, he wept. But oh, was Jesus interested in Peter? You'd better believe it. And is Jesus interested in you today?

Please believe me, he is. He knows where you are sitting, he knows the context in which you find yourself, and today Jesus is going to speak to you and to me and to say, come closer. What hope is there when we blow it? What hope is there when we deny that which we know to be true and live contrary to what we exactly believe to be the case? What happens when we don't live up to our expectations and, by the way, none of us ever does? And those of you who are perfectionists who are trying to, all that I can say to you is good luck, enjoy it, and die young.

We can't, we can't live up to all of our ideals. But what hope is there now for Peter? He ends up denying Christ. Let me give you four incentives that you will have today, four incentives to move closer to Christ, to open your life to him, regardless of the hurt that you are bringing to say to Jesus today, I want to let you come into my life. If you're a believer, you want to be cleansed from the failure of the past, and if you've never believed on him, you want him to be your savior.

What are the incentives? First of all, Christ prays for us. Christ prays for us. This is in verse 31. Jesus is speaking to Peter and he says, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and you, once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Jesus prays for us. Notice how he prays for Peter.

He uses his human name, Simon, Simon, because he knows that Peter is about to fall. A couple of observations about the prayer. First of all, it is very personal. It is very personal. Now, as you know, in the Greek language, the word you, when it is to be plural versus when it is to be singular, is indicated.

We don't do that today. We can say you as an individual or you as a large congregation. But I want to read this passage of scripture as it is in Greek. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you all, you Texans among us, it's plural, you all. He wants to sift all of the disciples, but I have prayed for you, singular Peter. Peter, I have prayed for you by name, specifically, because that I know that when you fail, I want you to be restored so that you can be a blessing and strengthen your brothers.

Now, let me ask you something. Why is it that Jesus prayed for Peter in such a specific way? Is it because Peter was so strong?

Is it because of his eminence? No, Peter was rash. He was egotistical. He was filled with failure.

It wasn't because he was mild and consistent and always doing the right thing. In fact, Peter is going to do the opposite. He's going to do something quite terrible.

He's going to deny Christ. I want to tell you today that the grace of God extends itself to those who are in the greatest need. You show me someone who is wretched and broken down.

You show me someone who is fallen and who is crushed. And I will show you someone to whom the grace and the mercy and the attention and the love of Christ extends. And those of you who are here today who are hurting, those of you who, because of your experiences in the past and because of misunderstandings or mistreatment, are in pain today, I want you to know that you are number one on Jesus Christ's list of people to intercede for. The Bible tells us that our high priest is in heaven and he intercedes for us and he reminds God the Father that we have been purchased at high cost, we have been bought, we have been redeemed, we are special and we belong to him. It's a personal prayer. He prays for you by name.

Not only is it a personal prayer, but I want you to notice that it is a prayer against Satan. You see, what Satan wanted to do is to take the upcoming experience that Peter was going to have, what Satan wanted to do is to use that experience to show Peter that he was nothing but chaff, to sift you, just like in ancient days when they would take grain and the oxen would walk on it and then they would take the grain and throw it up in the air, the wheat and the chaff together, and supposedly the wind was to blow the chaff away and the wheat was to remain. Satan had his eye on Peter and Satan said, Peter, I want to destroy you. I want to prove that you are nothing but chaff and if the wind blows hard enough and the temptations become too strong, you're going to be blown away and I want to prove that you're really nothing.

Now a couple of observations. Notice that Satan had to have permission from Christ to do this. I want to remind you today that no matter how difficult the temptation and the need you face, ultimately even the tests that come to us from Satan have to be approved by Jesus who cares for us. And you know that there are always four people, four personalities involved in temptation. First of all, you are involved, aren't you? Christ is always involved. Demons are always involved. People say, could it be that my fear of witnessing is really something that is instigated by Satan? Well, it certainly was in Peter's case, the fear that overwhelmed him. And then of course, angels are always involved because angels are observing us.

They are watching the tug of war that is going on. We'll see in a moment that angels knew all about this. Dr. Louis Sperry-Chafer, who was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, said on one occasion that a secret sin on earth is an open scandal in heaven. We sin secretly and we think nobody knows, but God is watching, Satan is watching, angels are watching, we're involved, and it's big news in heaven.

The question is, is this person going to endure the trial or is he not? Remember, Job learned that as God and Satan were watching him and angels were watching him to see whether or not he would hold fast his integrity and go on believing even though his children were wiped out, his family was wiped out, and all of the devastation came to him personally. So I want you to know today that God is putting all of us through a sifting process, a sifting process. And the question is whether we are chaff or wheat. Satan says you're pure chaff and you're like the wicked that are going to be blown away, the Bible says in the Old Testament. Jesus wants to prove that amid the chaff there is some wheat.

Christ prays for you. He knows you by name and he loves you. Secondly, we can be encouraged because Christ understands us. Notice what he says in verse 34, and he says, I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me. A question, why did Jesus predict Peter's downfall?

Well, you know what the answer is? Is that Jesus wanted to make it easy for Peter to return to him and to come back despite the failure. First of all, I want you to know, though, that Jesus knows our circumstances intimately. He knows that Peter is going to be there in the palace of the high priest. He knows that there is going to be a rooster in the vicinity.

And he also knows that the rooster is going to crow at exactly the right time. Notice what it says in verse 60. Peter denies Christ. You remember there is a servant girl there that Jesus knows all about that is going to taunt Peter.

Peter said, man, I do not know what you're talking about. And notice it says, and immediately while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed at exactly that specific moment. Now Jesus knew about the servant girl. He knew about the rooster. He knew where Peter was going to be.

He knew all about the circumstances. He knew more details than Peter's mind could possibly absorb or handle. My friend, today I want you to look at me just for a moment. I want you to remember that Jesus Christ knows all about you. He knows details about you that he would never even share because you'd be bogged down. He knows your aptitude. He knows what you would do if you were under different circumstances than you are. He knows what you would have been like if you had been born in a different home. In fact, in all the different homes of the world, he knows all of the contingencies, all of the what ifs.

Everything is present to him known with intensity and clarity and accuracy. Jesus knows you. Now that is comforting because people sometimes misunderstand you. There are some of you here who say today your reputation is ruined no matter what you do because you're being misunderstood.

Let me give you a word of hope. God understands you perfectly and he knows what is true and what is false. God does.

It's also terrifying though. Just to think there are some of you who may think that you're getting a buy with things. There are things that in your private life which if were known would be very shameful, maybe even landing you in jail if all of the processes of justice took their toll and today you're hiding all that behind a very lovely and smiling face and I want you to know today too that God knows that as well. But he knows your circumstances.

He knows how it hurts. Now Jesus did this as I pointed out so that Peter would find it easy to come back to him. Sometimes in counseling I've said to people now I want you to know that even if you fail in this particular problem again, you can come back. You see the natural tendency is to cower in shame. The natural tendency is to say I can't face Jesus again on this issue. I have sinned so often.

Some of you feel that way. I have sinned so often. How can I keep coming back again and again and again? I want you to know today that you walking away from Christ, you turning your back on him and saying I can't face him again hurts him more than returning to receive his grace, his love, his forgiveness, and his acceptance. So don't turn away from him.

Turn to him because he understands you. Third, Jesus prays for us. Jesus understands us. Jesus has compassion for us. Jesus reached out and touched Peter in a very special way.

Let me tell you about it. Jesus Christ is crucified on the cross. He is put into a tomb and he is buried. And he lies there and then on the third day he comes forth from the tomb. What's Peter doing during these three remorseful days of tears and regret? Peter feels I've blown it so badly. I'm not a member of the 12 disciples anymore.

I no longer belong because after all I have had an opportunity to be able to witness for Christ and I deny in the presence of a servant girl that I even knew him. And the regret seems to wash over his spirit and it is absolutely overwhelming. Jesus knows that. So it says in the 16th chapter of Mark that after Jesus was raised there was an angel that was sitting there at the tomb and the angel talks to the people that come and then the angel says this, go tell his disciples and Peter that Christ has been raised. Why and Peter? Because Peter thought that he was no longer a part of those disciples. And just to make sure that he is not overlooked, just so that he doesn't run as it were with his tail between his legs and be banished off in shame and regret and be washed with depression and remorse, Jesus says and Peter, actually it wasn't Jesus, it was an angel that says and Peter.

The angels knew all about what had happened. They were watching when Peter denied Jesus. And God makes sure that Peter is included. Today Jesus looks into your eyes and says and so and so and Peter and Paul and May and whatever your name is, Jesus looks at you and says you're included. And you know as a pastor I can't help but think that there are people listening today who needed that message to know that they were included. I'm holding in my hand a letter from a psych nurse who says a lot of women have trouble with understanding God as Father or even have been abused by their fathers. When Pastor Lutzer addresses the fatherhood of God, it really speaks to me and I share this message. You my friend today as a listener have had a part in testimonies just like this. If you support this ministry, now this is a very exciting time when some of our supporters have said that they are willing to match the gifts that are given to the ministry of running to win to match them one on one so to speak.

In other words your $20 becomes $40, your $25 becomes $50, $50 becomes $100. Here's what you do and I hope that you have a pen or pencil to write this down. You can go to Of course as you might guess RTWOffer is all one word. or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. In the midst of this very broken world, running to win seeks to meet the needs of the most needy. Help us.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. It's good to separate fact from fancy when it comes to the afterlife.

Jerry is a running to win listener who wants some clarification. He asks, when Christians die and go to the Lord, can they really look down and see us here on earth? I always hear this on the news whenever they give tribute to someone who's already gone, especially in the secular media. Pastor Lutzer, what's your take? Yes, Jerry, whatever you do, don't get your theology from the secular media.

I know exactly what you're talking about. Somebody dies and they say, oh, he's looking down from heaven and he's seeing this or seeing that. We have no evidence in the Bible that that is the case. There is a passage in the 12th chapter of Hebrews where it says that we are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. Let us lay aside every weight in the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run the race. People have interpreted that to mean that there are people in heaven watching us run the race. But actually in context, it is not a matter of them watching us, but we who look back to those who successfully ran the race, namely the whole list of heroes in Hebrews chapter 11.

So it is wrong for us to interpret that passage in that way. The people who die and go to heaven, I'm sure that they are busy. I'm sure that they are worshiping the Lord.

They are connecting with others. They are in a state of incompleteness because their resurrection body has not yet been received, but there's no evidence that they see us. Now, Jerry, having said that, it's possible, it seems to me, that someone in heaven could ask Jesus how a relative is doing. For example, a wife goes on to heaven. She could ask Jesus, how's my husband doing? And I would think that Jesus would tell her. But that's speculation.

Fact is, no evidence that they can see us. So don't get caught up by what the media has to say about somebody who dies. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Sometimes we fail so deeply that life seems to come to a complete halt.

Drowning in shame, we just want to quit. That's where Jesus found Peter after Peter vehemently denied even knowing Jesus. Next time on Running to Win, we'll see how, in His grace, the master reached out to restore his servant. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 03:48:41 / 2023-03-14 03:57:15 / 9

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