Summary: Moses teaches us that apparent worldly failure can lead to tremendous spiritual victory!
The Power of Failure
Exodus 2: 11- 3:1
1. Illus. of La Guardia
• Most of us have at least heard of La Guardia airport in New York City. What you may not know it that it is named after Fiorello La Guardia, who was Mayor of that city back in the 1930’s.
• On one occasion, he had implemented a new program that had fallen flat on its face. He had several choices: he could try to cover it up, he could blame it on someone else.
• Instead, he choose to accept responsibility. He called a press conference, and he began his remarks to the assembled newspaper reporters this way: “Boys, I don’t often make a mistake, but when I do, it’s a beauty!”
2. Is that you? Have you ever fallen flat on your face in absolute failure? Some of you are nodding, “Yes sir, I’ve been there.” Some of us might even be there today. If you are one of those lucky ones who’ve never fallen flat on your face in failure, I promise you that you will. It’s just a matter of time!
3. Well, I’ve got some good news for all us failure prone people. Failure, can be one of the most beneficial things that could ever happen to you! If you will trim your sails in just the right direction during those times of failure, God will produce some things in your life that you might not ever see any other way. You say, “Tim, what do you mean by trimming your sails?” Not all failure is beneficial. It depends on our attitude. We have to be genuinely broken before God, and genuinely submissive to God, during that time of failure for it to produce these spiritual benefits we’re going to talk about today.
4. I know this is true, because it happened to Moses! Let me bring you up to speed. Moses has reached full manhood. He has figured out that he is of Jewish descent. He sees an Egyptian abusing one of his countrymen, and after looking around carefully, he kills the Egyptian. The next day, he realizes the word has spread, and that there is a price on his head! Fleeing the county, he finds himself sitting by the well, and absolute failure! You see, he wanted to help his countrymen, but he didn’t! As far as he knows, he has blown his last chance to do anything for the Jews. Sitting down by a well, he has lost it all: position, power, wealth, opportunity.
5. Text: Describes some of the beneficial changes that failure produced in the life of Moses.
6. Today: If we are genuinely broken and submissive, failure can produce some beneficial changes in our life.
7. What are these changes? Our text gives us at least 4.
Change #1: Failure can give you a teachable spirit
1. Now Moses had been educated in the finest school in Egypt (The temple of the sun, the “Oxford of the ancient world”). Extra-biblical accounts tell us that he was a great military leader, and most ancient historians believe that his Pharaoh had no male children, very likely placing Moses in line for the throne. It would be hard not to get a swelled head under those circumstances, wouldn’t it?
2. When you study the life of Moses from this point forward, you make an amazing discovery: he had a very teachable spirit! I’m not saying he was perfect. For example, God had to convince him at the burning bush that everything would be all right! I am saying that generally speaking, when God had a lesson for Moses, Moses learned it!
3. Why? Because he found out at the well of failure that he didn’t have all the answers to life. In that moment, he began developing a teachable spirit.
4. Principle: Failure can teach us the same! And when we learn that we don’t have all the answers, we are well on the road to a teachable spirit!
5. Illus. of daddy teaching me to change points and plugs
• When I was 16, I bought an old 64 Chevy. Only problem was the rings were going bad. Used just about as much oil as gas!
• Besides blowing smoke, fouled out the spark plugs on a regular basis. Daddy was trying to show me how to change them.
• Well, when you are 16, there are just very few things you don’t know! Wouldn’t listen, just had to do it my way.
• He finally backed off and let me! When I tried to drive it out of driveway, was sputtering and clunking along at a top speed of about 15 MPH!
• Sheepishly backed car back into place, admitted maybe I didn’t know everything, and asked daddy to show me the right way to do it.