Open Bibles. Tonight, I want to talk about missing out on God’s opportunities. Few things in life hurt more than missing out.
I’m sure we’ve all had bad memories throughout of lives of missing out on things like weddings, sporting events, and birthday parties.
One thing I’ve learned about missing out on opportunities is that is always hurts more when it’s our fault. When we miss out on things that are out of our control, it’s not as hard to let go of those things.
I remember three years ago; the teen went on a Missions Trip and I couldn’t go because I was needed to help with things here at church.
While I did wish that I was there, I wasn’t upset or hurt because I knew it was out of my control. I had to miss it. It wasn’t my choice not to go. If it was, then things might’ve been a different story.
I’d probably still regret it to this day because God presented me with an awesome opportunity to do ministry with the youth and have a great time with these guys, but I choose to miss it for some reason.
While some may disagree with what I’m about to say, I want to start tonight by stating that Christians can miss out. I know what you might be thinking. How can we miss out if God is sovereign?
I believe according to scripture, that while God is sovereign, our choices can cause us to miss out on opportunities. They won’t stop God’s plan, but they can keep us from the blessings on the way.
I remember during Sunday School, Bro. Tim illustrated the Christian life as a bike race. The race had one beginning and one ending, but there wasn’t always one designated path the cyclists had to run.
You could choose to stray from the path and it wouldn’t disqualify you from the race, but it would hurt you. The thing was, usually, the tracks are designed to be the fasted way to get to the finish line.
It’s not always the easiest, but it is the best. Not only because the path was more direct, but the path was also filled with these pit stops that we reserved only for the racers who were staying on the path.
The pit stops were where the cyclists could get food and water to sustain them through the race, and in a 200-mile race, they’re needed!
What does this have to do with missed opportunities? See, while God’s sovereignty ensures we will get to the end the race, it does not guarantee we will always run well or catch all the rewards on the way.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on any of the special opportunities that God has placed in my path just for me.
Tonight, I want to look into a rarely preached on passage from the book of Acts to see an example of Peter’s missed opportunity, and how God’s sovereignty was able to provide Peter a second chance.
READ. Tonight, with the rest of the time we have together, I want to preach a message I’ve simply entitled, “Missing Out”. PRAY.
While it might not be preached on often, I genuinely believe that Acts 10 is a major turning point for all of us as gentile believers.
Unless you’re Jewish by nationality, then we all owe a lot of thanks to God for inspiring Luke to write Acts Chapter 10.
The reason why is that Acts 10 is the first moment when we finally see in clear writing that God is not a respecter of persons, and that the gospel is equally meant for all people, nations, colors, and creeds.
Until Acts 10, a casual reader of the scripture might be under the impression that God had meant salvation to only be for the Jew, which God obviously had the right to do, but thankfully, He didn’t!
Three gentiles came knocking at Peter’s door, and thankfully, Peter didn’t miss out on the opportunity to preach the gospel to them!
However, when I look at scripture, I like to not only see the main events that everyone remembers, but I also like to see the preparation that God puts them through before they get to the main event.
I don’t just look at David killing the giant. I look at how he first killed the lion and the bear. I don’t just look at Gideon’s 300 soldiers. I look at the trumpets that were blown to call the first 10,000 soldiers.
The main event of this chapter was that Peter preached to the gentiles, but the preparation was that God saw him miss out on the opportunity to kill and eat the beasts that God prepared for Him.
God tested his obedience through a vision, and in his vision, Peter failed the test and missed out on God’s opportunity to obey and eat.
For the rest of the time we have together tonight, I want to see four lessons we can learn from Peter’s missed opportunity. First, we see:
- A Presence of Desire
The first lesson I want us to see was that Peter’s reason for missing out on God’s opportunity wasn’t for a lack of desiring the rewards.
Acts 10:9-10 (KJV) 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
Peter didn’t miss out on God’s opportunity to eat because he wasn’t hungry. Peter was starving! Peter missed out because he didn’t obey.
I need us to understand tonight that desire alone doesn’t yield results. Desire is great, but it needs to be paired with obedience and action.
No matter how bad you want it, no matter how bad you want to see a revival in our church and in our city, just wanting it isn’t enough.
We saw we want it, and I don’t doubt that you do, but why aren’t we out on the streets and parks handing out gospel tracts?
We say we want it! We say we want revival! We say we want to say lives changed! We say we want to see pews filled! I believe you want it, but the question we have to ask tonight, is what are we doing?
1 John 3:18 (KJV) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Desire alone did not kill the beast and feed Peter! He was hungry. We long to see souls saved, but if all we have is desire, we will miss out!
- A Personal Demand
Next, we see that not only did Peter have a desire, but we also see that God had given Peter a very personal and specific set of instructions:
Acts 10:13 (KJV) And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
God said rise! Get up! Stop sleeping! Then He said, “Peter!” He spoke to Peter specifically! He had a calling for Him! Then He said I need you to go and kill these beasts so you can eat and fill your hunger!
God had a direct, personal command for Peter, and Peter heard Him loud and clear, yet he still missed the opportunity to obey and be fed.
Church, can I say tonight that God has a personal demand, a specific command for you and me tonight, but some of us won’t ever hear it.
The reason why some of us don’t hear it is because some of us are too afraid to listen. We prefer that God would only speak to us in generalities. We prefer that God keeps it simple, broad, and general.
“Be ye holy” “Go ye into all the world” “Love thy neighbor”. We like broad commands because we can sit in our pew and hope someone else does it, but we’re afraid that God has a calling that’s just for you!
God’s saying “Rise!” He’s calling out your name and saying, “Go tell your co-worker about me!” “Tell your parents about me!” “Be a missionary!” “Go to a Bible school!” “Go into full-time ministry!”
It’s easy to accept the general commands, but when they become specific, we become afraid of our responsibility, and we miss out!
We’re missing out on God’s calling in our lives because we’re not even looking for it! We’re afraid. We’re so consumed with writing our own planned destiny that we can’t hear God’s personal demand.
We need to stop letting the devil convince us that we’re not destined for anything bigger, that God doesn’t have a bigger plan for us, and that our destiny is to just be another warm body sitting on a pew.
We need to accept and embrace the fact that God has a plan for you! God has a unique calling just for you! God wants to move mountains through you! God wants to do great and might things through you!
1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
I believe that God has a plan with your name on it, and if God has a plan with our name on it, I hope we don’t want to miss out on it!
Some of us need to pray tonight when we get home and ask God, “What is your plan for me? What are you trying to do through me?”
- A Prideful Decline
Despite the fact that Peter had a desire and God had a demand, Peter still chose to decline. Originally I wrote “disinclination”, but I know that some of us might not know what that means, so I simplified it
Despite everything that Peter had already been through with Christ, he still declined Him. Peter is one of my favorite characters because it’s comforting to know that someone so flawed can still be so used.
Acts 10:14 (KJV) But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
Not only did Peter decline, but Peter had the most prideful and legalistic reasoning for why he didn’t want to follow Christ’s demand.
“That food is dirty! We’re not supposed to eat dirty food! That’s for the gentiles” See, under the Jewish law, Jews weren’t supposed to eat certain unclean meats, especially if they came from rare animals.
What Peter forgot, was that when Christ came, He came to shed His blood and form a new covenant, not to abolish the law, but bring understanding to the spirit of the law above the letter of the law.
Let’s look at the passage and see how God replied to Peter when Peter tries telling God that the meat was unclean and uncommon.
Acts 10:15 (KJV) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Peter should have known that God cannot contradict himself! He should’ve known that if God was telling him to eat the meat, it was okay! Peter didn’t decline out of holiness. He declined out of pride!
Peter allowed his prejudice and his legalism to cause him to miss out on the opportunity that Christ was giving him, and sadly, many Christians are doing the exact same thing and we don’t even know it.
“Share the gospel with them? Invite them into MY home! Take them to my church in MY car? But they’re dirty! They’re drug addicts! They’re homeless! They’re Muslim! They’re gay! They’re atheists!”
We are no different than Peter trying to convince God that the animals God wanted him to kill and eat were “too” unclean.
God is saying, maybe some of the gentiles might be unclean, they might be unholy, and they might be wicked, but there is no soul on this earth too unclean for the blood of Jesus Christ to make whole!
We need to stop trying to spiritualize our apathy! No matter how many verses can we can try to manipulate to fit our agenda, it will never excuse us from the fact that God has commanded us to go!
When the Spirit leads you to tell someone about Jesus, just do it. We can’t sit around wondering if it’s okay for us to do it. Did you know that this is exactly why God gives us eternal security in the first place?
In the book of Galatians, Paul address Christian liberty, the fact that we can’t lose our salvation because many Christians thought the purpose of liberty was to have a “license to sin”, but Paul said:
Galatians 5:13 (KJV) For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
See, God gave us liberty so that we don’t have to be afraid if we’re accidentally committing “sin” while we try to love and serve others.
I’m not saying to not be holy, but I am saying that if our holiness is preventing us following God’s calling in our lives; we might not actually be as holy as we think. We’re confusing holiness with pride.
Peter’s pride and prejudice deceived him into thinking that he was exempt from following God’s word, and as a result, he missed out.
- A Persistent Denial
Acts 10:16 (KJV) This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Even after God had explained to Peter that the meat was clean, Peter still continued to deny Christ, and sure enough, the opportunity left.
Here’s the sad reality church. While God is sovereign, God can only give us so many chances to receive His blessings before He finally decides to take the opportunity away, and we simply miss out.
There might be someone in this room today who knows that God has called them to a certain path or ministry, but we keep holding off because we think the opportunity is always going to be there. It’s not.
The truth is we can never know how long that co-worker who we know needs to hear about Jesus might be around for until their gone.
We can’t wait until it’s too late. We can’t keep missing out. We need to stand up and say, “Today is the day that I will rise up and obey!”
2 Corinthians 6:2 (KJV) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
We can’t keep saying no to God and be expecting that God will keep asking! Isn’t that what we tell people when we witness to them?
“Don’t wait to get saved! You never know when today might be your last day on earth?” Why does that principle only apply to salvation?
Why can’t we say, “Don’t wait to start soul winning!” “Do wait to go on the mission’s trip!” “Don’t wait to start serving!” “Don’t wait to get baptized!” “Don’t wait to tell your loved ones about Jesus!”
I’m not going to ask you to say amen because I know why we’re not saying amen, it’s because a lot of us are still sitting and waiting!
It feels good to say amen until the sin becomes our own. I’m not calling out the congregation! I’m including myself into everything I’m preaching. It’s hard to get excited when we know we’re all guilty.
We can’t keep persistently declining the will of God and expect the doors to stay open. We can’t continually reject the conviction of God, and expect God to keep bring us opportunities to be convicted.
Proverbs 29:1 (KJV) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
The opportunities won’t always be around, so don’t miss out! We have to be sensitive to every impulse of the Holy Spirit! We have to be quick to obey, and slow to question. We have to follow Christ!
Now listen, because we’re almost done. While there are few things that hurt more than missed opportunities, here’s the good news:
Even after missing God’s given opportunities, because of His grace and His mercy, God still wants to provide us with new opportunities.
Peter might have failed God’s first test of obedience in his vision, but aren’t we thankful that because of Christ, failure is never final! Failure is just preparation for the main event. It’s just the pre-game warm up!
Perhaps a few of us in this room are sitting here thinking, “Pastor is really letting me have it! If he doesn’t stop reminding me about my missed opportunities, I’m about to start missing the offering plate!”
No! That’s not what this message is about. See, while Peter missed out on the opportunity to eat the animal meat, his conviction after his failure was preparation for the real opportunity God had in mind.
When Peter saw those gentiles knocking at his door, he thought about his failure with the animals, and we knew right away that he had to bring those gentiles in and preach the gospel to those sinners.
We might fail during the dress rehearsal, but thankfully, we still have a chance to get it right before the big show! We might drop the ball during the warm ups, but we can still get it right before the big game!
I don’t know what opportunities you might have missed out on in your life, but the fact that you’re here today and still breathing means that God still has some bigger ones in store that we can’t miss out on!
This message isn’t condemnation for the mistake of our past. This message is hope for the opportunities God has in our future!
I’m not here to preach defeat! I’m here to remind us that there’s still time for victory! Don’t miss out! Don’t let it pass you by! Don’t be like Peter and try to justify why we can’t follow! Rise up, and go!
It’s not enough to just want it! God has a plan for you, and we can’t be too prideful to follow! The opportunities won’t always be around forever! We have to rise up, and we have to obey! Let’s pray.