Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
—Matthew 26:75

This week, as we discover how to have a second act in life, we are learning that mistakes come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Today we will look at the biggest mistakes of all: screw-ups. Screw-ups are monumental mistakes that seem to have unending consequences.

I imagine somewhere in your past is a mistake like that. Maybe your mistake involved sexual immorality that devastated your marriage. Perhaps you accepted a job in another city, but the move proved to be disastrous for your children. Or maybe you ignored certain warnings about your health until a loved one persuaded you to go to the doctor and you found out it was serious.

When I think about people who made major mistakes, I think about the apostle Peter. 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. And he mistakenly thought that God couldn’t save Gentiles as much as He could Jews. But the failure for which Peter will always be remembered is his screw-up the night before Jesus was crucified.

In Matthew 26, the disciples had just celebrated the Passover with Jesus. When they left the Upper Room, Jesus made this prediction to Peter: “This very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” (Matthew 26:34). Peter responded, “I will not deny You” (v. 35).

After spending time in prayer and then being betrayed by Judas, Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house to be put on trial. Peter stood outside the high priest’s home—and he did deny Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75).

Have you ever made a horrendous mistake and thought, “Why did I do that?” Maybe you were overcome by waves of grief: “Will I have to spend the rest of my life paying for that mistake?”

Peter failed miserably, but Jesus was willing to forgive him and restore him. Three days later when Jesus was raised from the dead, the first apostle He appeared to was Peter (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). This was Jesus’s way of saying, “I forgive you.” Six weeks later Peter preached a great sermon about the resurrection, and thousands came to faith in Christ.

Your failure doesn’t have to be the final word about your life story. This year can become your new beginning. God is not only willing to forgive you, but He is also willing to use you again.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Curtain Doesn’t Come Down When You Mess Up” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.