Don't Settle For Second Best
Pastor Mark Stephens

Why do we as people of God always seem to "settle" for second best? One reason some settle for second best is that they believe they must compromise because of their sins they have committed in the past. They seem to think, "I don't deserve Godís best. Iíve been so bad that if the Lord would just help me out a little, that is all I deserve."

But when a person becomes a new creation in Christ, every sin he has ever committed has been done away with. Your old life has been erased. To use computer terminology, your hard drive has been formatted! You have become recreated. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, "Behold (look and see) all things (all means ALL) are made new." The old you is dead and gone, that means you donít have a past, you are a brand new species! As a new creation in Christ, you deserve Godís best because you have now been adopted into His family. You have now become a joint heir with Jesus!

Take the biblical story of Samson. He was a judge of Israel for many years but yet settled for second best. In other words, he made some mistakes and thought those mistakes kept him from Godís best for his life.

If youíve never read this story, I encourage you to do so. It is found in the book of Judges Chapter 13-chapter 16. In reading, youíll find that Samson done feats of strength that only could have been accomplished by the power of God on his life. The Philistines ( Israel ís enemy) were terrified of this man of God because of his strength and valor. But Samson stumbled morally, and the enemy discovered the secret to his anointing, and he was stripped of his great strength and power. He fell to the pit of despair, and became little more than a slave of the Philistines. After all the glory he had won for Israel as Godís champion, his mistakes caused him to miss Godís best for his life. His sight was gone and he was humbled and brought low in life.

When Samson lost the anointing, he lost the power of God. When that happened, the Philistines were able to take this once powerful man of God captive and put his eyes out and tied him to a gristmill where he was literally their "beast of burden."

Under the New Covenant, Godís people are born again and the Holy Spirit is tabernacles on the inside of them. But under the Old Covenant, men and women were not born again; they did not have a new nature. Therefore, the Holy Spirit did not reside "inside" of them, but only came upon them so they could perform their God-given duty or stand in the office God called them to such as prophet or judge, etc.

Samson was anointed by the Spirit of God to be Israelís deliverer at this time, and as we have established he was able to do extraordinary things under that power. Samson took the vow of the Nazarites. That vow and his physical strength were the signs of the anointing and call on his life. But because he defiled himself, he had allowed the enemy to steal the glory of the Lord from him, and now his life looked as if it would end in absolute defeat.

The odds were against him. The Philistines were celebrating and worshiping their false gods, jeering and mocking the Lord and making sport of Samson. But in the middle of the most trying time of his life, as he was walking around in the depths of despair chained to that grinding mill, Samson cried out to God. He began to speak with Him. He made the decision once again to call out to God for help and to walk in the anointing of God regardless of the circumstances. He may have remembered past victories and commitments he had made to God long ago. We do know that he repented because in chapter 16:21-30 we see that the power of God came back on his life and he "called upon the Lord."

Of course, God heard this heart cry and Samsonís strength (anointing) was restored. He grabbed hold of the huge columns of the arena where the Philistines were celebrating to their god. Suddenly, the power of God came upon him, there was a cracking and a groaning as that entire arena came crashing down and utterly destroyed Godís enemy, the Philistines.

The point you need to grab here is this: Samson was in a desperate circumstance and in the pit of despair when he made the decision once again to call upon God. He felt that he had made a failure of his life, and there was no hope for him. But he got right with God, and it was said of Samson, that in his death he was a greater victor than he had been in his life (see verse 30). He is even listed in the "hall of faithers" in Hebrews 11.

At one time or another, maybe you have felt as Samson did-that you have failed in life. But just because you may have failed and made some mistakes, does not mean you have to compromise and settle for second best in your life. Iím not endorsing failure by saying that. Iím simply saying that if you have failed in your walk with God, you can confess your sin, go on, and achieve victory in God.

1st John 1:9 was written to the Christian:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

If you have time after time, turned away from sin, God will hear your prayers. Itís not Godís plan that you settle for second best. Itís Godís plan that you make a commitment to Him and then live by that commitment so He can prosper you in every area of your life.

The Word says that our Father is a loving God and He cares for us. His thoughts are above ours and His ways are above our ways. He is not going to hold our mistakes against us if we have repented (Isaiah 55:7-9). How many of you (parents) keep holding it against your children when they fail or make mistakes? That does not mean you shouldnít discipline them and correct them when they make mistakes because you want what is best for them. When they repent, we forgive. God is the same. As a loving Father, He wants what is best for you and me. He disciplines us, but He doesnít do it with sickness or tragedy. How many of you discipline your kids by breaking their legs or giving them something that will intentionally make them sick? Many think that is Godís method. Iíve got good news for you: IT'S NOT!

For some of you, it may seem as if youíre down for the count and about to be defeated. Maybe youíve even asked yourself, "Whatís the use?" But Iím here today to tell you that if you wonít quit, your success, your miracle, your victory is around the corner. Itís just waiting to come to you, because God in His Word promised you that "we always triumph in Christ (2nd Corinthians 2:14). The only condition to always triumphing is staying in Christ. That means staying in faith and staying in obedience! Donít quit. Youíve come too far to stop now. Your faith will get you through. Rely on God and keep on keeping on in faith.

Faith knows no defeat. In God, there is no problem that is unsolvable; there is no fear that is unconquerable if you will stand true to God. Yes, your needs may be many, and your problems great; your trials may seem overwhelming, and you may have situations that you just donít have a clue how to solve. You may not know where your next dollar is coming from or how youíre going to meet this monthís bill. But I challenge you and encourage you to dare to believe (thatís where my screen name or e-mail address comes from) the Word of God. God knows everything weíre going through and He knows how to bring us out of every problem.

There has never been a problem that has been placed in the hands of God, which has not been completely resolved. We must put our problems in His hands and not try to give God an "assist."

Stand firm in your faith in God and His Word. If God could take care of over 3 million Israelites as they walked in a desert on the way to the land of promise, He can take care of us in whatever adversity we face. If God can take care of a prophet name Elijah and tell him exactly where to go in the middle of famine to find food, I think He can take care of our situations. God is bigger than the economy of the world. God can sustain us no matter what circumstances come upon this earth.

I challenge you today to stay faithful to whatever God has called you to do so that you can receive victory in every circumstance in your life. What will you win if you quit? You have everything to gain by trusting God. If you have made some mistakes and think youíve made such a mess of your life that itís too late-if youíve sincerely repented-I need to tell you: IT'S NEVER TO LATE WITH GOD!

Yes, Satan will try to tempt you to be discouraged. He may even throw at you some more fiery trials and temptations that youíve already faced. The Bible says he goes around "as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1st Peter 5:8). You may be facing some very real circumstances today, but did you know that is not up to God whether you are a success or failure in life-itís up to you and me! We hold the key to our own success. Our redemption is already made sure and declared in the Word. Now we just need to appropriate it for ourselves.

What do you choose to do? Do you choose to believe what others say about God or do you choose to take God at His Word? Do you choose to believe the symptoms the devil is trying to put on your body, or do you choose to believe God means that He says in His Word. Things like, "By His stripes you are healed." (1st Peter 2:24) What about the economy? Do you choose to accept what the economists are saying or do you choose to believe Godís Word that "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ." (Philippians 4:19) Do you choose to crumble in fear when you hear of Osamaís next plot against our country or do you choose to believe "the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1).

Do you choose to believe that "All things are possible to him that believes?" (Mark 9:23) Do you choose to believe that "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" Luke 18:27?)

"Well, preacher, I thought God was going to move on my behalf, but I guess He isnít"

Are you going to go on allowing the devil to torment you, to place fear on you, to keep you in lack in your life, or are you going to rebuke him and say, "Satan, Jesus already defeated you, and you donít have any authority over me!"

Godís Word and the name of Jesus are all you need to put the devil in his place. Faith and obedience to the Word and that Name are all you need to unlock the vast storehouse of heaven so all the innumerable blessings can be poured out upon you.

Some Christians have never fully trusted God. They say, "Well, Iíll pray about it, but if God doesnít come through for me, Iíll try something else." Theyíre making their own way of escape. But God promised us in 1st Corinthians 10:13: "He will make a way to escape, that ye will be able to bear it."

When Christians try to make their own way of escape instead of relying on God, theyíre building failure into their lives. We have to learn to live by faith daily. Those that are successful have learned to stand on Godís Word regardless of circumstances. When we stand in faith, we know that God cannot fail!

Many Christians come to the point in their walk where they are willing to compromise their values and their goals. "Well, Iíve experienced some success, so Iím satisfied. Everything God has promised has not transpired, so Iíll just be happy with what I have."

You can have that type of attitude and still be a child of God. God will allow you to settle for second best if you want to. Itís not what He desires for you, but if thatís what you want, you can have it.

You belong to the King of kings. You donít have to settle for second best in life! Donít be satisfied with a "just get by" attitude. God wants so much more for you.

The Word of God promises us so much more than "just getting by." When God promised us the He would "supply all our need according to His riches in glory", that doesnít sound like "just getting by!" He has promised to deliver us out of all our trials and all our temptations. That doesnít mean some of them. ALL MEANS ALL! Letís dare to take God at His Word!

Faith knows that God is a God of more than enough! Dare to come boldly to God to obtain your needs met in full! God will not disappoint the one who asks in faith believing-TAKING HIM AT HIS WORD!