Exceedingly Precious Promises
Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Failure and Success
Now Playing: Are we learning God's lessons from our failures ?
Topic: Troubles
"And Joshua rose up early in the morning and numbered the people,and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai." Joshua 8:10

It has been aptly said that failure is the back door to success. Nowhere is this adage more graphically illustrated in Scripture than in the capture of Ai. With a task force of 3,000 men Israel had failed miserably in her attempted conquest of Ai because of one man's sin. Achan kept God's people from victory, but once his sin had been dealt with, victory would most assuredly come again to Israel.

The defeat at Ai could have dealt a devastating blow to Joshua's leadership. Joshua feared the Canaanites would hear of Israel's cowardice and their name would be cut off from the earth. His concern really was what such a defeat would mean to the great name of Jehovah God. But his fears were alleviated when Jehovah promised Joshua victory in the second battle of Ai.

The plan of attack for this battle, unlike that of Jericho, was far more likely to be included in military manuals. God told Joshua to put an ambush of 30,000 men between Ai and Bethel to the west. To this was later added another ambush of 5,000 men in the same direction. Meanwhile "Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai" (Joshua 8:10). When the king of Ai saw what was happening, he too "hasted and rose up early" in the morning (Joshua 8:14). Mustering his Aiite troops, he marched out to meet the main body of the Israelite forces. Because he knew that the enemy was fully aware that Israel had retreated once in defeat, Joshua feigned a retreat, drawing his troops back to the northeast. The Aiite troops followed.

While this was happening, the Israelites that were waiting in ambush entered the now empty city of Ai and burned it to the ground. When the king and his men turned to see their city smoldering, they realized their defeat was imminent. They were surrounded by Israelite soldiers. The Israelites in the ambush then came out of Ai and marched on the rear flank of the Aiite army. Joshua reversed his movement and caught the king and his men in a pincer movement. The people of Ai were defeated; Joshua's victory was now complete.

Joshua had taken the stumbling stone of defeat and turned it into the stepping-stone of success. In doing so he learned the valuable lesson that our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. Others give striking testimony to this fact as well.

In 1832 a young American was a candidate for the legislature. He lost. In 1834 he was again a candidate and this time he won. In 1847 he went to the United States Congress but served only one term. He was not even renominated by his party. He campaigned for Zachary Taylor for president, hoping to be appointed commissioner of the General Land Office. He wasn't. He returned to private law practice. In 1854 he again ran for the legislature and won but soon resigned because he hoped the new anti-Nebraska party would support him for the senate. They didn't. In 1856 he was nominated for the office of vice-president of the United States and lost. In 1858 he ran again for the United States Senate and lost again. In 1860 he was simply nominated as a favorite son from Illinois for the presidency, and later that year he, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president of the United States. Like Lincoln, we must never allow yesterday's mistakes to bankrupt tomorrow's efforts.

Just as there is no failure more disastrous than success that leaves God out of the picture, likewise there is no success greater than the rediscovery of the power of God in our lives. We must never be ashamed to confess that we have failed, for this is but one way of saying we are wiser today than we were yesterday.

MORNING HYMN

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

Almighty, victorious Thy great name we praise.

(from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr0 at 9:05 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 March 2005 10:47 AM EST
Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Our Rights
Now Playing: Are we seeking our way or God's way ?
Topic: Troubles
Not Insisting on Rights

Genesis 26:21,22

Isaac sought for satisfaction without a complete return, so he dug wells. However, there could be no real spiritual satisfaction until he completely returned to the Lord. God was forcing Isaac back to his homeland by permitting the Philistines to close up the wells he reopened. However, even in this, Isaac showed a very lovely trait in his life. He did not insist on his own rights. He simply moved to another place.

First Peter 2:19,20 says, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." The Philistines were treating Isaac wrongfully, but he did not insist on his own rights.

God rewarded Isaac for not insisting on his own rights. God patiently worked with Isaac until He had him in the place He desired him to be.

In 1 Peter 3:8,9 believers are exhorted: "Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing." That is, we are to do good toward those who do us evil. God richly blesses the Christian who does this.

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:10).

(from T. Epp)

Posted by dondegr0 at 10:32 AM EST
Friday, 7 January 2005
Desperation
Now Playing: Where are we looking for solutions to our problems ?
Topic: Troubles
Ruth 1:1

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.

Desperate Times

Desperation can drive us to many extremes. Comedian Woody Allen characterized our times when he said, "We stand at a crossroads. Down one road is despondency and despair, and down the other is total annihilation. Let us pray that we choose the right road." This kind of desperation sometimes even plagues God's people and causes them to make poor choices.

Elimelech was facing desperate times, and he needed to make some difficult choices. He was struggling to feed his family. A wife and two growing boys needed nourishment, but a famine gripped the land. Famines were often God's way of bringing His people to the point of submission. They were not simply to punish Israel, but to get them to turn from their sins. Yet without clear guidance from God, Elimelech chose to run away. Instead of facing the Lord's judgment on the land and trusting God to provide, he moved his family to a pagan land and raised his children in a society that did not know the God of Israel. He even broke God's law by allowing his sons to marry pagan wives (Deut. 7:3-4). It is very tempting to look for the easy way out of our problems. But any choice that takes us away from God is, in the long run, the wrong way. Elimelech's choice ultimately brought death to himself and his two sons. No matter how desperate the situation, it is always better to face what God has allowed and trust Him than it is to run from our circumstances and go it alone.

If you are experiencing difficult times, make your choices based on clear direction from God. Don't allow a feeling of desperation to steer you in the wrong direction.

Desperate choices are seldom the best choices
.

(from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr0 at 8:21 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 January 2005 9:25 AM EST

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