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Summary: 15th in long series on Joshua. This speaks of gaining victory over Ai, after losing to them the first time around. How do we regain spiritual victory after failure in our lives? Topical/expository.

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Joshua 8:1-29 – Rematch

James Abram Garfield was born November 19, 1831, in a log cabin in the back woods of Ohio. His father died at the age of 2. Young James somehow earned enough money to go to college. He graduated from college in 1856, and he became a professor and president of Hiram College in Ohio, the college of his denomination, the Disciples of Christ, in which he was also a lay preacher.

Eventually he chose to enter politics, and in 1880, he was elected president of the United States. After only six months in office, on July 2 1881, however, he was shot in the back with a revolver by an attorney who had grown bitter by being overlooked for an important position. Garfield never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn’t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn’t locate the bullet.

They took Garfield back to Washington, DC, and eventually to the shores of New Jersey, to keep him comfortable in the summer heat. He was growing very weak, even though teams of doctors tried to find the bullet, probing the wound over and over.

In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president’s body. He came with an induction-balance electrical device, hoping to find the bullet with this invention of his, but he too failed. The president hung on through July and August, but on September 19, 1881, James Garfield, the last of the log-cabin presidents, finally died. But he didn’t die from the wound. He died from infection and internal bleeding. You see, it was the repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help him, that eventually killed him.

You need to understand: how you handle failure might turn out to be worse than the failure itself. How you deal with a loss may hurt worse than the hurt. What you do with a defeat in your spiritual life determines if the defeat is temporary or permanent.

Joshua and the Israelites had just suffered a defeat and a loss. They had battled Ai and lost. God told them to deal with the issues, which they did in ch.7, and now they are poised to fight again. Let’s read all of ch.8. Now, you can see that the Israelites recovered from their initial loss against the men from Ai. Now, I believe there’s a principle in there for us. Do we always win? Do we ever get disappointed? Do we ever mess up in our spiritual walk? Do we sometimes suffer a loss? Well, what do we do then? How do we get up again? How do we move on after we have gone through a defeat in our spiritual lives?

Well, the good news is, God’s words to Joshua can help us too. The Bible, God’s word, is a light and lamp. The Bible is a sword. The Bible is a hammer. The Bible is a fire. The Bible is food. The Bible is a mirror. The Bible is a seed. The Bible is cleansing water. The Bible is a source of faith. The Bible is a life-giving force. So for you to make the effort to understand God’s words to you, you will find strength and hope and energy and focus and determination.

Now, looking at God’s words to Joshua in v1-2, we can see 3 things God wants us to know, and 3 things God wants us to do. First, the 3 things God wants you to know: 1) God is for you, and wants you to win. V1 says, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It’s really something to know that God is on your team. Granted, looking back at Joshua 5:13-15, where the commander of the Lord’s army said that He actually wasn’t on any side but God’s, you might wonder how the 2 tie in.

Well, what’s important is that we are doing what God wants us to do. He rarely blesses disobedience. He would much rather bless obedience. So make sure you are doing what god wants you to do, and He’ll strengthen you for it. He’ll bless you as you work with all your heart what He has called you to do.

After we have suffered a loss in our lives, after we have messed up and need forgiveness, after we have bowed to peer pressure again, after we have lost courage to follow through with God’s directions, it’s good to know that those mistakes are not unfixable. They are not fatal errors. God would much rather forgive than condemn. And it’s nice to know that even if other people never forgive us, God will if we ask. God is for you, and He wants you to win.

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