Sunday, March 11, 2018 pm                                        Problems Index


Problems Christians Face

 Previously, we addressed a number of points associated with how to deal with failure from a Biblical standpoint.   In that lesson we noted that we all fail from time to time, but what sets the Christian apart is how he deals with that failure.  In our lesson we noted that we need to

1) Examine and think about why we failed

2) Let God be the one who defines our successes and failures

3) Repent if needed – if our failures involve sin we need to genuinely repent
NOTE: The following includes all failures, whether sinful or not (though our focus is primarily on spiritual failure)

4) Realize that failure is a part of life – both Peter and Judas failed that night, but they handled it differently.  Failure is a product of Satan.  He seeks to enable you to fail. 

5) Admit to your failures.  Don’t make excuses or pass the blame.  Even if others are involved (and often they are), what you have to deal with is YOUR failures

6) Pray about it.  And let us pray with you about it – James 5:16.

                Tonight we continue by addressing some more steps to help us deal with failures. 

 I.                     Don’t let failure define you

a.       There is a difference between failing and being a failure!  This goes back to how you deal with failing.  Judas ended up a failure, while Peter didn’t let his failures define who we would become.

b.       Paul in Philippians 3 illustrates this as he described his former conduct and what he gave up to follow Christ.  Paul knew the SPIRITUAL FAILURE of his former life (1 Timothy 1:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:9 – he states how he is unworthy).   In vs. 6-7 he notes that what was gain he counted as loss to gain Christ.   Then in vs. 13-14, he notes he’s not there yet.  He lets go of his past saying, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize…”

c.        Accept the consequences for your failures
One reason failures are so difficult, is we want the consequences to just disappear.  But they don’t just go away.   Sometimes our consequences are very real and are going to be difficult to overcome or may always be there. 
That is why we need to accept them.  Like Paul said, “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).   Paul accepted his consequences and the rest of his life he lived with them.  He paid a high price for his former conduct (Acts 9:15-16).  
 David did too.  While God forgave his sin, there were serious consequences – he lost the baby, some of his children turned against Him, he was a man of war most of his life, not to mention the mental reminders of his failures.  BUT he had work to do and did it!

d.       Make up your mind that you will do better.

e.       Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying. 
It has been said, There is one way to guarantee you will not fail.  Don’t do anything! 
But, in reality, that IS failure!   That is dwelling on your past or what might happen. 
Think of the one talent servant – Matthew 25:24-25.

f.         Don’t let failure claim your soul for eternity – 1 Peter 1:6-7.  DON’T let Satan win!

 II.                   NEVER give up!

a.       It is so easy, after so many failures (because often there is more than one), to want to just quit.  We become frustrated.  That is what Judas did.

b.       Luke 9:1-5 – to His apostles, if you are not received (fail to win over a city), shake the dust off your feet and move on.

c.        Hebrews 12:1-2 – put off weights and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race. 

d.       Galatians 6:9-10, let us not grow weary in doing good…we will reap if we do not lose heart.

e.       I have concerns when someone preaches, “If your heart is not right, you might as well stay home” or “you might as well quit giving.”  I understand the point – you are not right with God and until you get yourself right you are in a lost state – so in reality whatever you do is meaningless, and you may even see it as hypocritical.  BUT, on the other hand, when you quit attending or quit giving (or doing whatever it is you keep doing), you have completely surrendered.  You have burned the bridge that you need to cross back over to make yourself right with God.  Who knows?  Maybe something will happen or be said that will help you resolve to turn around the direction of your life.

f.         To give up is to accept defeat and be a failure.

 III.                 LET it make you better –

a.       This is part of that mindset that will help you deal with your past.

b.       Learn from your failures.  Sometimes failure can be a good thing. It can cause us to wake up and see where we are at.  Again, think of the prodigal son who “came to himself” and then returned to his father in a much better state of mind.

c.        Use those consequences and struggles to overcome to remind you that you will NEVER go back there!

d.       Paul never forgot his past!  He didn’t dwell on it, but in the reminders, he moved forward and accomplished better. 
On one occasion, he pleads with God to remove a thorn in his flesh.  What that thorn is we don’t know.  Somehow, I suspect it was related to his work.  God said no 3 times.  But Paul accepted it noting, that “when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

e.       James 1:2-4 – the testing of your faith produces patience, Romans 5:3-5 – perseverance, character and hope; Hebrews 12:5-11 – chastising can make you better in the end.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, in weakness I am made strong.

f.         Get to work! Move on to the next task or attempt.  Keep busy!  1 Corinthians 15:58

 IV.                 Realize that God is not the source of your failure – He will not fail you

a.       He doesn’t fail.  He is able to accomplish His will.   Matthew 19:26, Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”  (Luke 1:37)    Isaiah 55:11 tells us that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He pleases. 
This is a major theme of the Bible.  God accomplishes what He intends to do.  

b.       He knows and understands – this is not saying He ignores it and overlooks sin.  BUT be reminded, as noted previously, let GOD define what is success and failure.  Realize that even before the world was created, He knew man would sin and made a plan to forgive us and help us deal with our failures.  He accomplished that plan. 

c.        He doesn’t want you to fail! 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4 – He desires all men to be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – He will make the way of escape. 

d.       He is waiting for you to come back – like the father waited for the prodigal son (Luke 15:20).  Hebrews 13:5-6

e.       Suggestion: READ God’s word!  There are multitudes of passages that will encourage and strengthen us.

V.                   The other side of failure

a.       What about when someone else has failed? What are we doing to help them? 
Do we go to them – Matthew 18:15-16?
Hebrews 12:12-13 – strengthen the hands which hang down and feeble knees.
Galatians 6:1 – seek to restore them with gentleness
Pray for them, etc.

b.       Do we possess godly attitudes toward them?  1 Peter 3:8-9 be of one mind, have compassion, love as brother, be tenderhearted, courteous…

c.        Will we forgive them and give them another chance?  Colossians 3:12-13 includes forgiving one another with other qualities we need. 

d.       Do we define them by their failures, or do we try to help them overcome? 

WHAT if Jesus had defined the failure of His apostles by their failures surrounding the cross?
Where would Peter be?  Jesus, in spite of the apostle’s failures, encouraged them.  He didn’t “fire them”.  He restored Peter. 
Let us seek to define others by the life they live, not by a singular event (or even their past when they have shown genuine change) where they acted out of character or messed up – i.e. they failed.


Again, I realize that one struggling with these things knows that they are real.  It will not be easy to overcome this mindset.  And the deeper you have sunk into this state, the more difficult it is to work your way out.  BUT YOU CAN!  And realize that you are not alone.  History is filled with examples of failures.  Some wallowed in their failures, but others moved ahead. 
      It is recorded that before Abraham Lincoln became president, he failed at business twice, suffered a nervous breakdown and lost several campaigns including for the senate and for vice-president.  But he kept trying and eventually became our president.

Realize that when you stand before God, He will look at where you are right then.  He is not going to ask how many times you failed.  He is going to look at how you dealt with your spiritual failures.  Have you made yourself right with Him?  IF not, how can we help you?