As a way of reminding you, these lessons have been inspired by my reading of Dr. David Jeremiah’s book, “Slaying the Giants in Your Life.” Dr. Jeremiah says, “You can win the battle and live victoriously!” God will allow you, through Christ, to slay the giants in your life and live victoriously before Him. On p. 174 of his book, he reminded me of something I experienced every spring. I used to be a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. Jeremiah said, “At the beginning of every season, your favorite pitcher has a 0.000 ERA. At the beginning of every season, your favorite hitter has a 1.000 batting average. At the beginning of every season, your favorite team is tied for first place. World Series hopes are still alive. But then, after the opening game, some of your favorite hitters go 0 for 5. Some of your favorite pitchers take an early shower. What we discover is, even our favorite major league player can fail. Babe Ruth, for example, held the home run record for a long time in the major leagues, but he also held the record for the most strikeouts!
So today, the giant that we all must face, is that of failure. In life, we often strike out and have to head for the dugout. But the good news is that many times we have another opportunity to stand at the plate.
Dr. David Jeremiah tell us in his book, that failure is guaranteed. We need to expect it early and, we need to expect it often. Using our baseball analogy, you may strikeout in life more than you actually get a hit. Why? Paul says we are “earthen vessels.” What’s that mean? In Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage, he speaks of the “Unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.” In other words, we are ordinary folk and ordinary folk often fail in life. Ordinary folk, like clay pots, wear out. They crumble and crack. They break. So, what’s the point? The point is, temporal things in life will fail you. The Bible teaches that the sea and the mountains are temporal. These mountains that so many of us have depended on to provide a living for us, will one day be gone. They are temporal. These mountains will fail you! I told my wife that I want to be around for my family as long as I can, but I know that one day I will fail them. Why? I am temporal! The one thing that God has given us that is not temporal and will stand forever is His Word. I can depend on His Word. It will not fail me. And the Word of God says, “We are earthen Vessels.” Meaning, we are ordinary folk, and ordinary folk eventually fail. No matter who you are or who you think you are, you will fail. You ask, “Preacher, why do you think it is so?” It is so because “God designed it exactly that way!” When there’s a crack of failure in the pot it allows for the “power” (dunamis) of God to come shining through. Dunamis power is miraculous power. It is the miraculous power of almighty God that comes shining through the lives of Christians who are cracked pots.
In life, ordinary folk produce such things as;
- Solyndra Solar Panels (failure)
- Edsels (failure)
- Electric Car Batteries (waiting on someone to order an electric car battery is worse than being a Maytag repairman.)
But on other occasions ordinary folk can become;
I watched a portion of the funeral service for George Beverly Shae on Monday night. He was 104 years old. They came pushing Billy Graham (94) into the service in a wheelchair, with Cliff Barrows (84) leading the service. I thought, cracked pots, with the power of God shining through! Their bodies have failed them, but the Word of God has not failed them. God’s power has been shining through their lives.
we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Stephen Pile listed some of the most famous of all failures;
- The Beetles failed. They were unable to get a record deal because the record company complained about too much guitar.
- Thomas Edison failed. His school teacher complained, “he’s too stupid to learn.”
- Einstein failed. They described him as, “mentally slow when he was just a boy.”
- Fred Astaire failed. They said he is, “bald and can’t sing.”
- Walt Disney failed. He was fired by a newspaper editor that said, “he lacks ideas.”
Why do famous people fail? They are “earthen vessels.” In reality, they are just ordinary folk, and ordinary folk fail. My mom use to say, “They pull their pants up the same way I do.” Why do God’s people fail? They fail for the same reason famous people fail, they are ordinary folk.
God’s people fall down; they get up; they fall down; they get up…and they do this all the way to glory. Alexander Whyte
Church, GOD IS NOT SURPRISED AT OUR FAILURES! Listen to this Scripture;
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:14
God knows that we are limited. Notice the contrasts?
- First we fail only to succeed later.
- “Light affliction” (temporal) produces “an eternal weight of glory” (eternal).
- Eugene Peterson paraphrases, “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.”
- Suffer with Christ now, reign with Christ later!
Someone says, “No man ever fails until he fails on the inside.” Look at verse 16,
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
We do fail in the small stuff, but it is clear we will succeed in the big stuff. “Light affliction”, that’s the temporal. “Weight of glory”, that’s the eternal. Paul had his share of troubles. He did not look at them through the temporal bars of his prison cell. Paul looked at his troubles through the stars of eternal glory! Paul would say, “I don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff.” He writes,
but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Fail in the small stuff (temporal). Succeed in the big stuff (eternal). Listen to me church, God does not isolate His people. He will allow you to fail in the temporal. You must live life. God does insulate His people. Failure is part of the process of sanctification, yet God is with us through the entire mess.
- We fall down, He picks us up
- We fall down, He picks us up
It is an exercise of faith. When we exercise the enabling gift of faith, it grows stronger.
If you don’t like the word failure, say, “I flubbed up!” Lenard Thomas, Ben Williamson Supply Company, use to say, “I flubbed my ‘dub’.” But as you admit, remember;
- Your marriage is not too difficult for God’s power
- Your job is not too hard for God’s power
- Raising your children is not too hard for God’s power
- Your broken heart is not too difficult for God’s power
Remember, you’re a cracked pot. Cracked pots are designed to allow the power of God to shine through. Former President Harry Truman was once asked, “Were you popular in school?” He said, “No! I was a sissy.” He explained, “If I thought there was a chance of a fight, I took off.” He confessed this and became the president who said, “The Buck Stops Here.”
Accept God’s forgiveness. Listen to Psalm 103:10,
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”
What a joy, as your pastor, to tell you, “Look beyond any failure that God is willing to look beyond.” Do you know how many He is willing to look beyond? He’s willing to look beyond all of them!
As ambassador for the NAMB, I have the privilege of speaking to at least 11 pastors per week. Recently Regina and I encountered a pastor who is struggling in his church. His deacons asked him to resign. Our hearts went out to him, because there is no hurt like the hurt of being rejected by your church family. It began with a situation that was not even his fault. They just held him responsible. The situation snowballed from there. It became a huge power struggle. Here is some of the advice I gave;
- I said, “Learn from it.” The redeeming factor of failure is, we have an opportunity to learn from it. We can literally grow through it. A. W. Tozer said, “It is highly doubtful that God can use a man until he has hurt deeply.”
A rose produces maximum fragrance after it has been crushed.
I asked Don Mathis once, “What makes Charles Stanley so effective?” Without hesitation, Mathis said, “He preaches through his pain.”
- I wish I had said, “Failure is a fact of life, not a way of life. ”Remembering that failure is an event and not a person. Just because you failed over here does not mean that you must fail over there. Learn from it. Don’t repeat the same ole’ mistakes. Peter failed 3 times, but Pentecost came later. 3,000 souls were added to the church as a result of Peter’s preaching.
- I said, yet not in these words, “Fail fast, get up, dust yourself off, and start over.” The Bible says, “Now the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time,” Jonah 3:1
I have not always been a jogger. I would try to jog, but would run a few laps and give up, run out of air. Someone talked to me about a second wind. They said, if you will simply keep going you will get a second wind. When you get the second wind, you will be able to jog long distances without stopping. You know something, they were right. It happens for me daily, I continue to run while waiting on that second wind, it comes, and I just keep on going. Listen to this Scripture;
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
When the Giant of failure comes, I am learning to wait on Jesus. I must depend on His power to shine through in my life. When I do, I learn that I can win the battles of life, and live victoriously before Him.
Until you are willing to take responsibility for your failures you will be… unable to do anything about them. Charles Stanley