We want to invite you to join us for a powerful weekend in Philly, April 28-29th with Pastor Steve Scibelli. Saturday afternoon we will do outreach with a bus load from Baltimore in Center City then at 7 pm we will have a concert and a message with a rap to follow. Sunday at 1.30pm we will have the privilege of having him speak at our service. Join us at the Holiday Inn Express at the corner of 4th & Arch St. in Historic Downtown Philly @ 400 Arch St. For more info call p.Chris at 267.328.4496.
In addition to being the Vice President of the GGWO Board of Elders, Pastor Scibelli is the Director of Missions for GGWO. In 1988, he led a 16-person team to Ghana that included his wife, Linda, and their two children. Today, the Greater Grace work in Africa includes more than 179 churches in 19 countries. He is a popular teacher on discipleship, evangelism, and church planting and has traveled more than a million miles in his worldwide ministry. It is not uncommon for him to be surrounded by scores of people after MBC&S classes and GGWO services. He can often be found doing rap sessions in the parking lot and late into the night. The Scibellis – the parents of one son and one daughter -- live in Baltimore, where he enjoys spending time with his granddaughter.
Have you failed, fallen flat on your face, embarrassed & shamed yourself or others? Have you ever done something so bad and no one ever found out about it? Are you a leader or someone in the church that has failed and lost your position or honor? Do you feel you have failed your calling? Do you feel you are now out of fellowship with God, not Spirit-filled or rejected by God? Do feel you may even have lost your salvation? Is the guilt, the fear, the shame too much to bear?
Does God have a “Plan B”? Or is this the end?
No. It is not. But rather it will become the greatest beginning of blessing & growth in your life.
“For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]” Romans 11.29 – (Amplified Bible)
“Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.” Isaiah 41.9 – (KJV)
Failure is the unavoidable fact of fallen humanity.
Failure is an organic part of world history as well as church history. The Bible has 7 epochs of time where in each period of time God issues His Mandate and mankind utterly fails in his endeavor to keep it. Three of the greatest writers of the Scriptures; Moses, King David, Peter & Paul the Apostle were men that were guilty of cowardice, murder and adultery – some even while they were serving God.
Some of the men & women that had the greatest influence on modern thought, philosophy, education, & our country were individuals that failed many more times than they succeeded.
Failure may be a fact of life on earth but it is not who you truly are.
The hidden tri-une enemy.
Most of the time it is overlooked that our 24/7 enemy is a trinity comprised of:
An alien element in you not originally part of your human construct – an element that is by nature fallen & corrupt constantly warring against you. Romans 7.1-24; 5.12
A global system (of fashion, philosophy, art, entertainment, religion, politics, & education) purposely structured to connect with the fallen nature in you with the goal to empower it and promote it’s desires, passions, and self-destructive pleasures. 1 John 2.16, 5.17
A supra-physical being pro-porting that he does not exist who energizes the global system you live in & accuses you day and night via the alien element that lives in you. Ephesians 2.2
Like failure, this tri-une enemy cannot define who you really are because it has already been engaged & overthrown in a historic battle on a small hill just outside of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Galatians 2.20; 1 John 5.4,5; John 16.11
How does one measure “Failure”?
There has been an evolving religious code measuring what failure is since the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses in Exodus 20. As a matter of a fact, since the issuance of those few commandments there have been an additional 1500 laws appended to the Law by the religious mafia of the day, the Pharisees.
Jesus cuts deep through the myriad of laws and applies the law not only to behavior but the unseen state of the heart in Matthew 5.20-48. Jesus simplifies it even further when asked by a Pharisee what the greatest commandment was by repling that the whole law that defines failure hangs on the first commandment – “Love the Lord your God” in Matthew 22.37. Paul later profoundly defines the fulfillment of the entire Mosaic law in one word: “Love your neighbor” in Galatians 5.14
But Romans 14.22 maybe the best description the defines failure - the man who has doubts stands condemned because he does not act from faith, whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin, missing the mark. It’s a faith that functions and is empowered by love – Galatians 5.6
Man is morally religious by nature without God or the Law but man does not naturally love by faith or love God for that matter. But we were born in this state of failure – we were born “missing the mark” of faith – Psalm 58.3. A faith that functions and that is empowered by God’s unchanging love.
So failure for you today does not insinuate that you’ve missed your self made goals, marks or laws. Failure for you does not mean falling from a religious standard that the religious professionals themselves couldn’t keep. Failure does not even mean you’ve failed expectations of those dear ones that you love so much.
Failure is that state that you enter into in mind and soul the moment you stop believing and trusting in the unchanging love of God – Jude 21
When “Plan B” becomes God’s “Plan A” – Redemption
You may feel that you’ve slipped to a lower place of value in God’s eyes because of failure. It may appear that you’ve become second rate, and not first choice among people’s evaluation. It could be that you’ve been persuaded that you’re not in God’s “Perfect Will” or “Plan A” but that you’re in God’s “Permissive Will” or His “Plan B” and that somehow affects the blessing of God in your life.
Consider with me:
Moses: Kills a man in his eagerness to accomplish God’s will, flees Egypt in shameful defeat only to be met by God at a burning bush 40 years later. Later leads God’s Nation out of Egypt, writes much of the Old Testament, and trains up Joshua and Caleb to lead after him. The testimony of him is that he is among the greatest of prophets in the Old Testament.
David: The beloved Psalmist, commits adultery in an affair with Bathsheeba and then arranges for her husband’s death (one of his mighty men). After his meet with Nathan, his repentance and restoration; David goes on to be the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart that had “sure mercies” follow him all the days of his life.
Peter: Swearing & denying Christ 3 times after 3 whole years of following him. Shortly after that Jesus calls him to “Feed His sheep” making him head over the church in Jerusalem, a writer of several books in the New Testament and a glorious martyr at the end of his life.
Paul: A Pharisaical persecutor and murderer of Christians before his conversion and after his conversion admits of his struggle within in Romans 7 as he serves God as an apostle. Paul goes on to bring the Gospel planting churches in what is today, Turkey and Southern Europe, also writing a large part of the New Testament. Paul the “chief of sinners” becomes a 5 star general in God’s Kingdom and is martyred in Rome.
“Plan B” is really “God’s Plan A” because “mercy [full of glad confidence] exults victoriously over judgment” – James 2.13 (Amplified Bible). God does not rejoice in your judgement & destruction but has a sovereign plan to lead you out of defeat by his promise of grace because His gifts & calling in your life are not in danger of God changing his mind about you. You see, God’s “Plan A” for you is not based on you, your behavior, or your failure. “Plan A” is based on the completion of His Son’s Work on the Cross for you – “For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear” – Hebrews 6.13 (Amplified).
Can I be restored? How?
Restoration can happen in the same breath of failure. In John 21 we do not see Jesus casting any program or probation on Peter after he failed but rather a simple question that addressed Peter’s heart after Him, “do you love me”. Peter’s answer was brutally honest in the Greek language, “I like you”. He did not promise idealistic perfection but he rested in Jesus’ unconditional love for Peter.
The road to restoration is wide and paved with many waypoints of grace – Let’s look at Luke 15 of the Prodigal Son’s restoration.
“when he came to himself” – Some call this “hitting rock bottom”. There has to be that sober moment in your despair & need that you in honesty, humbly assess your circumstance from the perspective of the Bible. Many never experience true restoration because they do not face the reality of the desperate state they find themselves in.
“I will arise … go … and say to my father” – 3 things we see here. The first, “arise“. Do not be dominated or intimidated by failure. The son understood who his father was and his merciful nature. That understanding enabled him to rise above his miserable consequences. The second, “go“. When you stumble forward to take one step towards God – he runs to meet you. James 4.8. Thirdly, “say to my father“. Confession, not only acknowledgement, is vital in being restored to blessing. In the original language it means to “say the same thing”. The son’s confession was a statement on what really happened, not a denial or a minimization of his failure. You are like this son, you can come courageously, not timidly to God, to His Throne of Grace and receive Mercy in your time of need – Hebrews 4.16
“let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry” – It’s hard to believe but this part of restoration can be difficult for some people to experience. Why? Because people naturally would rather pay for their failures because of human pride. You may prefer a “pay-back program” to appease the guilt & shame but like the father in Luke 15 God our Father will not have any of that! The father celebrated his son not because of his failure which he referred to as “dead” but he celebrated his son in that he was “alive”. Our Father too refers to those living in the rut and the psychological entrapment of failure as “dead” until they “arise, go, & say to their Father”. You have to learn how to celebrate the grace of God and your value in the eyes of the Father. Otherwise you will enter the complications of a poor self image or self-effacement and not experience the blessing of the robe, the ring, the shoes & the fatted calf…
"For He is [Himself] our peace... and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us" - Eph 2.14
"Many and many a man is crying to God in vain, simply because of sin in his life. It may be some sin in the past that has been unconfessed and unjudged, it may be some sin in the present that is cherished, very likely is not even looked upon as sin, but there the sin is, hidden away somewhere in the heart or in the life" - R.A. Torrey
There are three walls that block the upward prayer of the saint. Number one is what the scripture calls iniquity, a hidden rebellion or emotional reaction in the heart to the Will of God or His Word. The prophet Isaiah said rightly to Israel "your iniquities have separated between you and your God" - Is 59.2 A large number of Christians today may say "there is no sin in my life" but live with buried bitterness and disagreement to what God has allowed or done resulting in the breakdown of communion and fellowship with The Planner. It very well may be that we are scandalized by what God has permitted in His Sovereign Will, but try as we may, until we surrender in faith to He who is our peace, we shall not know the wisdom needed, peace, curing, and the breaking down of the wall of iniquity.
The second wall that thwarts prayer is sin. The practice of sin or living in the memory of sin effectively stops prayer. No man can pray and sin simultaneously. One excludes the other. Not only does sin always cause prayerlessness, prayerlessness always precedes sin. God has with a word of finality dealt with your sin forever and at present. Until we agree with that word of finality in John 19.30 "it is finished" and say the same thing God has said about our sin, then that wall of silence shall stand unmovable between us and God. But O how sweet the communion is of breaking the bread and drinking the cup when we surrender our sin to the Sin-Bearer Jesus! How speedily we hear His Voice and see His Face!
The final, yet most obstinate of the 3 walls is the wall of idol worship. The prophet Ezekiel described hidden chambers in the homes of many men in Israel where they worshipped idols and images secretly - Ez 8.12. This happens today in the hidden rooms of believer's souls. Worship simply means the concentration of our attention whether positive or negative. Any 3 dimensional item or unseen issue in our soul that steals our focus for any amount of time from the One that is our object of adoration, is an idol. Technology, careers, noble endeavors, family, even the ministry of serving God, or inner fear, unforgiveness, bitterness, comparison, and jealousy have become idols in today's society.
The truth is that anytime Jesus is not the focus of our mind, body, and soul then walls spring up causing a disconnect of fellowship with God, an understanding of who we are, and our eternal purpose. Sadly the problem lies deeper than the concentration of our attention; it lies in the fact that when there is no consecration, there cannot be any concentration. Consecration is an act that we experience solely when we surrender at the dusty foot of a splintery cross where our peace with God was made. Only there do we discover the rapturing of ourselves into conversing with He who is our peace.
This Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord & Savior Jesus. On Good Friday Jesus, the Paschal Lamb for Israel and the whole world of the gentiles, was delivered up to be crucified. Friday coincides with the Hebrew calendar Nisan 14 which is the date that according to Hebrew law their Passover lamb was to be sacrificed and it's blood put on the door posts for their protection & deliverance, Ex 12.6. One the 3rd day (or Nisan 15, the day of First Fruits in Lev. 23.10) Jesus rises from the dead and appears to his disciples, Acts 1, and the world, 1 Cor. 15.5-8. Many unbelieving critics and historians such as Tacitus a Roman historian in 115 AD, attest to the indisputable fact that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead, accompanied with more evidence than that Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet. Praise Him!
"But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" - Romans 4:24-25