Jesus told a simple story of a man who owned a vineyard. He walked there with the keeper of the vineyard and looked at a fig tree and said, “For three years I’ve been looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
The keeper of the vineyard said, “No, let’s give it another chance. I’ll water, fertilize, prune and care for it. Give it another year and if it doesn’t bear fruit I’ll cut it down and plant something more productive. Give it another chance!” And the owner agreed.
Jesus told this as a parable. He spoke it to the nation of Israel and to his followers of that day. We can also apply it to our lives as this is God’s glorious message of giving second chances. God is the God of the second chance. He is ready to make all things new. A new heart, a new life, a new beginning, a new hope, a new spirit, a new nature. God gives us all second chances. He allows us the ability to start over again. God always gives us a new year or new day to respond to His love and grace– to be more and do better – make all things new – with a new start and a new beginning.
As we think about new beginnings and second chances there are four things to think about. Repent. Resolve. Remember. Receive.
My first response to God when He gives me another chance is a feeling of gratitude and repentance. When we repent and turn from our destructive behaviors, it is the beginning of salvation. But this is not a onetime single experience.
Repentance is a continuing experience in order to walk and grow in faith. The word “repentance” is an action work. It is a word that describes vividly going down the road in one direction and when realizing it is the wrong direction repenting and turning completely around. We need to do this many times, because we don’t go down the wrong road in the wrong direction just one time in our lives—we keep on going down the wrong road!
We get up in the morning resolving to go in the right direction and before the day is over we have gone wrong again. Then we get in a frame of mind or attitude that keeps us going in the wrong direction and we let this attitude get a hold over us. We need to repent and turn around and unless we do this, there is no second chance for us.
I’m reminded of the story of a man lost on a country road. He asked a stranger, “How far down this road to Grand Junction?” The fellow said, “I don’t know exactly, but I’d say in that direction, it’s about 25,000 miles! If you will turn around and go in this opposite direction it’s only about three miles.”
We all fail and have tensions and conflicts where our egos are involved. We can turn around in relationships and attitudes toward others in our family, friends, business, or church. It is time to repent and turn around in all of our relationships. How does your record look for last year with your loyalty and commitment to all your relationships? I don’t think I did all I could have done and I am going to turn around and go in a different direction.
I have to continually remind myself throughout the day of my commitments to the Lord. It helps to write out Resolutions you are going to do. Here are some of my favorites that emphasize the basic principle of commitment and living life a day at a time in the hand of God.
- Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not set far reaching goals to try to overcome all my problems at once. I know I can do something for 12 hours.
- Just for today I will try to be happy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. I will chase them out of my mind and replace them with happy thoughts.
- Just for today I will adjust myself to what is. I will face reality. I will try to change those things I can change and accept those things I cannot change.
- Just for today I will try to improve my mind. I will not be a mental loafer. I will force myself to read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.
- Just for today I will exercise my soul and spirit three ways: I will do a good deed for somebody without their knowing it. If they find it out, it won’t count. I will do at least 2 things I know I should but have been putting off.
- Just for today I will look and dress as well as I can and respect others. Just for today I will try not to improve anybody except myself.
- Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly; I will have it and won’t be bothered with indecision.
- Just for today I will take a quiet half hour to pray and spend time in the presence of God. During this time I will reflect upon my behavior in the light of God’s will for my life.
- Just for today I will be unafraid. I will gather courage from God, the giver of courage.
- Just for today I will put my hand in the hand of God and walk by faith. I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future and I will walk with Him just for today.
As we live the days ahead we need to remember certain things that will help us get through the disappointments and heartbreaks of life. It isn’t always going to be mountaintop experiences ahead of us. We will have dark valleys that disappoint us and we are going to disappoint ourselves and others and God. But there are some things to remember.
- Remember the forgiveness of God, because we are going to fail. We are going to fall many times. But God comes in His love and forgiveness to pick us up and helps us start over again. Never quit and give up.
- Remember the patience of God that comes again and again to plead with us and lead us. He has not forsaken us or given us up. We have not exhausted His loving patience. Though we stumble and fall and fail, remember He can make all things new. You can start new any day you’re ready.
- Remember that this may be the last year God gives you. I want to live as though it is the last year and make it the best year of my life. Let’s make our home life, our marital relationships and attitudes toward each other the best year we have ever had.
We come not to earn or to achieve the forgiveness of God; we come just to receive it, to accept it. The scripture says: “To as many as received Him, gave He the power to become the children of God.” Salvation is not an achievement; it is a receivement. It is when we come and say, “Nothing in my hand I bring: Simply to the cross I cling. I receive it; I accept it.”
Today, will you receive this Christ, receive His forgiveness; receive a new day and a new heart, a new start and a new beginning?
Are you ready for another chance?