Sermons

Summary: No one wants to fail. But if our ambition to succeed becomes motivated by the fear of failure, ambition can become an idol in our lives and in our church.

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IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT NOBODY WANTS TO DELIBERATELY FAIL AT ANYTHING. THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT "FAILING" IS THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE BASICS OF FAILURE ITSELF.

THE GREATEST NEWS ABOUT FAILURE IS THAT FAILURE IN AND OF ITSELF IS NEVER FINAL. YOU CAN LEARN GREAT LESSONS FROM FAILURE IF YOU ARE WILLING TO DO SO. INSTEAD OF WALLOWING IN SELF-PITY OR GETTING WOUND UP IN ANGER, WE CAN TAKE THOSE LESSONS FROM FAILURE AND MAKE OURSELVES EVEN BETTER AND STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE.

WHEN IT COMES TO FAILURE, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT FAILURE IS NOT IN FALLING DOWN, BUT IN OUR REFUSAL TO GET BACK UP TO TRY AGAIN. TOO MANY PEOPLE STAY "DOWN FOR THE COUNT" AND NEVER GET UP TO TRY AGAIN. HOW SAD!

WE SEE COUNTLESS STORIES OF FAILURE FROM PEOPLE SUCH AS MOSES, KING DAVID, PETER THE APOSTLE, AND THE DISCIPLES WHO FAILED TO CAST OUT DEMONS IN JESUS NAME.

EVEN JESUS HIMSELF DID NOT REACH SUCCESS, BY HUMAN STANDARDS, 100% OF THE TIME. AFTER HEALING THE 10 LEPERS ONLY ONE CAME BACK TO SAY “THANK YOU.” WHEN DISCUSSING ISSUES OF ETERNITY, ONE MAN TURNED AND WALKED AWAY FROM JESUS BECAUSE HE HAD GREAT WEALTH AND COULD NOT GIVE UP ALL HE HAD TO THE POOR. EVEN THE FACT REMAINS THAT JESUS NEVER CONVERTED OR WON OVER EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MET.

ALTHOUGH JESUS MAY NEVER HAVE REACHED A SUCCESS RATE OF 100% HUMANLY SPEAKING, HE NEVER ALLOWED THAT STATISTICAL FACT TO BE CONSIDERED AS AN ACCOUNT OF FAILURE IN HIS LIFE AND IN HIS MINISTRY.

NEITHER DID THE OTHERS I MENTIONED. MOSES CONQUERED HIS ANGER, DAVID REBOUNDED FROM HIS ADULTERY AND MURDER, PETER MASTERED THE RESULTS OF HIS MISGUIDED PREDICTIONS, AND THE DISCIPLES BECAME GREAT APOSTLES OF THE FAITH REGARDLESS OF ALL THE HARD-HEADEDNESS THEY DISPLAYED TO JESUS OVER THEIR THREE YEARS TOGETHER.

THE SITUATION WAS NO DIFFERENT FOR EZEKIEL WHEN DEALING WITH THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH. THE PEOPLE WERE TAKEN INTO CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON, AND THOUGHTS OF BEING DISMAL FAILURES BECAME PREVALENT WITHIN THE PEOPLE.

EZEKIEL COMES FORWARD AS GOD’S SERVANT TO REDIRECT THEIR SHORTCOMINGS. THIS IS WHAT MAKES THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL SO POWERFUL AS IT DEALS WITH THE CHALLENGING AFFECTS OF FAILURE.

EZEKIEL PERSONALLY STEPS FORWARD TO WARN THE WAYWARD PEOPLE AND TO CALL THEM TO INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AS WELL AS NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. EACH ISRAELITE WAS PERSONALLY TO TURN TO THE LORD. LIKEWISE, THE WHOLE NATION MUST ULTIMATELY RETURN TO HIM.

THEIR FAILURE COST THEM MANY YEARS IN CAPTIVITY. IT COST THEM THEIR BELOVED CITY IN THE YEAR 586, WHEN JERUSALEM WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY THE BABYLONIAN ARMY. THEY EVEN LOST THEIR KING AS ZEDEKIAH WAS CAPTURED AND BLINDED AFTER WITNESSING THE EXECUTION OF HIS SONS. THE REMAINING INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM WERE EITHER MURDERED OR DEPORTED TO BABYLONIA. NOW THAT IS WHAT I CALL FAILURE!

IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A HEFTY PENALTY TO PAY FOR DISOBEDIENCE. BUT, WE MUST UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH GOD LOVES HIS PEOPLE. THE LORD LOVED ISRAEL AND CHOSE HER AS HIS VERY OWN PEOPLE TO BLESS THE WORLD. SO, SINCE SHE STRAYED FROM HIS RIGHTEOUS WAYS, THE LORD BROUGHT JUDGMENT ON HER TO MAKE HER CONSCIOUS OF HER WICKEDNESS SO THAT SHE WOULD RETURN TO HIM.

THAT IS WHY THE CRY OF EZEKIEL WAS TO DECLARE THE REASON FOR THE LORD’S JUDGMENT SO THAT ISRAEL WOULD “KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD.” A DECREE THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT THAT IT IS REPEATED OVER SIXTY-FIVE TIMES THROUGHOUT THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL.

BY NOW, WE’RE PROBABLY ASKING WHAT WAS IT THAT GOT THE NATION OF ISRAEL IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. THE ANSWER IS A COMMON THREAD IN THE TAPESTRY OF ISRAEL’S HISTORY.

THE NATION OF ISRAEL HAD MARRED AND STAINED THEMSELVES WITH DISOBEDIENCE TOWARDS GOD’S COVENANT. AS BEFORE, THEY ONCE AGAIN STRAYED FROM GOD AND FOLLOWED THE OTHER GODS OF THE PEOPLES AROUND HER. THAT’S RIGHT! IT WAS THE ABOMINATION OF IDOLATRY!

THE SAD HISTORY OF THAT FACT IS THAT IT WASN’T JUST A “ONE TIME” SLIP. UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF KING MANASSEH AND HIS GRANDSON AMON, ISRAEL NOT ONLY REJECTED THE WAYS OF THE LORD, BUT FOR 55 YEARS, THEY HELPED TURN THE PEOPLE TO ALL KINDS OF IDOLATRY AND WICKEDNESS. THEIR LEADERSHIP WAS SO BAD AND THE PEOPLE SO GULLIBLE THAT IT PERVERTED THE NATION TO THE POINT THAT THEY REJECTED THE LAW OF GOD AND EVENTUALLY FORGOT THAT THE LAW EVEN EXISTED.

IF WE PUT THAT IN TODAY’S PERSPECTIVE IT WOULD BE LIKE TRYING TO IMAGINE BILLY GRAHAM CONVERTING TO ISLAM AND HEARING HIM PREACH FROM THE KORAN. IT WOULD BE LIKE EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES, CHRISTIANS INCLUDED, BECOMING SO VILE THAT THEY WOULD NOT ONLY FORGET GOD, BUT THEY WOULD TOTALLY FORGET THAT THERE WAS EVEN SUCH A BOOK AS THE BIBLE.

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