Dr. Robert Jeffress: The new year can be your new beginning

One Saturday, I was at the airport waiting for my flight number to be called and I decided to stop at the restroom before boarding the plane. While I was washing my hands, a woman walked in. She froze when she saw me and apologized profusely for being in the wrong restroom.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, trying to diminish her embarrassment. “It happens to me all of the time.” She quickly darted out of there, while I finished drying my hands and straightening my tie.

As I left, for some reason I happened to look back. Posted on the wall next to the entrance was a feminine stick figure and the word “Women” written underneath it. I had been the one in the wrong restroom the whole time!

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We all make mistakes, don’t we? At the beginning of a new year, we often think about our mistakes and resolve to do things differently. Maybe your mistake involved a disastrous relationship or a poor financial decision. Perhaps you accepted a job offer, but the change proved to be difficult for your family. Or possibly you ignored issues with your health until someone persuaded you to go to the doctor, and you found out it was serious.

As you consider a past mistake, you might be wondering, Can God ever forgive me? Will I have to spend another year regretting that mistake? And most importantly, Can I ever hope to recover?

Unfortunately, life has no rewind button. But God can use even your worst mistakes as tools for greater success in your life. Scripture says that no matter what has happened in your past, you can have a second chance.

The apostle Peter certainly had his share of mistakes. He tried to walk on water, but when he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane with the Lord, he impulsively cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. But the failure for which Peter will always be remembered is his screw up the night before Jesus was crucified.

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In Matthew 26, the disciples had just celebrated the Passover with Jesus. When they left the Upper Room, Jesus said to Peter, “This very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34). Peter insisted, “I will not deny You” (v. 35). Yet after Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house to be put on trial, Peter did deny Jesus three times (vv. 69–75).

Peter failed miserably, but Jesus was willing to forgive and restore him. When Jesus rose from the dead, the first apostle He appeared to was Peter (1 Corinthians 15:3–5). This was His way of saying, “I forgive you.” Six weeks later, Peter preached a sermon about the resurrection, and thousands of people came to faith in Jesus Christ.

Your failure doesn’t have to be the final word about your life story. This year can become your new beginning. No matter what you have done, God is not only willing to forgive you, but He is also willing to use you again.

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Do you know why God offers to forgive our sins and give us a fresh start? The answer is grace.

Grace has been defined many different ways, but I love this definition: “Grace is God’s burst of undeserved generosity.” That’s the kind of God we serve. One who loves us. One who understands that our mistakes are inevitable, but He also says they are forgivable.

God doesn’t stop just with His forgiveness, though. He goes one step further and offers to redeem your mistakes. God is willing to take the worst mistakes you have made and still use them for your good and His glory.

I want you to do something: Raise your right hand and place it over your heart. Do you feel a heartbeat there? The fact that God didn’t strike you dead the moment you made that mistake is a sign of His grace. God has given you time not only to receive His forgiveness through Jesus Christ but also to recover from your mistake. And if you turn to Him today, He offers to give you a brand-new beginning.