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"For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" – Luke 6:45

“Turn Your Mistakes into Opportunities” – Mary Southerland

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This article was discovered on Pastors.com

I am sure you have heard the story of Ivory soap, the “soap that floats.” Years ago, this soap was just another brand among many until a factory foreman made a mistake. He left a fresh batch of soap in the cooking vat and went to lunch. When he was late getting back and the soap had overcooked, the foreman frantically examined the burned soap. It seemed to clean the same. The only difference he could see was in the weight. The burned soap was lighter.

He could either report the mistake and risk being fired, or he could make the best of it and ship the soap out as if nothing had happened. He shipped it out. The results surprised everyone. Instead of complaints, the company was deluged with orders for this new “floating soap” and the foreman was promoted.

God works the same way, taking our mistakes and sins and bringing good out of them. Paul said it well in Romans 8:28 (HCSB), “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to his purpose.” If we let him, God will use the pain of our sin and the results of our mistakes as the foundation upon which he can build a new life and a more effective ministry.

God works through our mistakes, knowing there is strength in pain that can be gained no other way. God does not eliminate mistakes, but he does step into the midst of the mistakes we bring to him. At our invitation, God’s very presence fills those mistakes with power and fresh hope, redeeming them for new truth and insight.

God is not committed to our comfort, but he is committed to our character – to making us more like Jesus. He will use every part of our life to make that happen. God does not waste a single experience, and there are no “scraps” of life to be thrown away! He even uses our mistakes for good.

– God uses mistakes to direct us. Some of my biggest mistakes have yielded the most powerful lessons in my life, pointing me in a new direction or revealing an area that needed change. As the writer of Proverbs 20 explains, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.”

– God uses mistakes to inspect us. People are like tea bags. If you want to know what is really inside, just drop them into hot water! How we respond to mistakes, problems, and sin tests the strength and reality of our faith. James 1:2-3 (NLT) says, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

– God uses mistakes to correct us. Some lessons simply cannot be learned in the light; they are wrapped in the darkness of pain and defeat. I remember when our daughter, Danna, was a toddler and had a fascination for electric outlets. I repeatedly pointed to each outlet in our home and firmly said, “No! No!” It was not until she stuck an object into one of those outlets, burning her little finger, that she learned the lesson and changed her behavior. We would be wise to choose the attitude of the psalmist, “It was good that I had to suffer in order to learn your laws. The teachings [that come] from your mouth are worth more to me than thousands in gold or silver” (Psalm 119:71-72 GNT).

– God uses mistakes to protect us. A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents us from being harmed by something more serious. Several years ago, a family friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem and seemed like a huge mistake – but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when his former management’s illegal actions were eventually discovered. Genesis 50:20 in the Message paraphrase says, “You planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good.”

– God uses mistakes to perfect us. When responded to correctly, mistakes and problems are character builders. In Romans 5:3-4 (NLT), the apostle Paul says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

God is at work in us – even in our mistakes, and even when we do not recognize him or understand his process.

Take a closer look at your mistakes. Have they become an albatross around your neck, constantly reminding you of your failure and inadequacy in ministry? Do past mistakes keep you from stepping out in faith today? It’s time to examine each failure through a new God-given perspective for the valuable nuggets of truth and the treasures that the darkness holds.


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