Sermon given 14th June 2008

Overcoming Failures

by Jon Bowles


When we look at the world today, the world if anything, is in unprecedented uncertainty. More so than I think we have seen for an awful long time.

'The Telegraph' headlines back on Wednesday 11th June 2008: "Petrol sales fall by twenty percent as the drivers feel the squeeze, British motorists shunning their cars following record rises in the price of fuel." The International Energy Agency said yesterday, this widely respected body, said that; "the British motorists are clearly driving less."

Inside the paper, it also then went on to say; "We face the longest era of turmoil in memory," says the bank boss. The Government of the Bank of England delivered a grim assessment of the economy yesterday, (this was just last week) as he warned that families face; "the longest period of financial turmoil than most of us can remember."

In a speech to bankers, Mervyn King raised the specter of stagflation saying that households are facing, "rising inflation and falling economic growth." Mr King also undermined the hopes that the worst of the financial crisis is past. He said; "After a decade or more of economic stability, we are now facing a period of rising inflation and falling economic growth." He said; "Part of the reason for this change of economic weather is that we are passing through the most prolonged period of financial turmoil than most of us can remember. Whether, as the IMF has argued, it is the worst period of financial stress since the 1930's, is too early to judge after all the crisis is not yet over."

So we are looking at a time and a period which is unprecedented uncertainty, a time of uncertainty. Trying to make plans in this is quite difficult for anybody.

It's interesting that when we look at the plagues of Ancient Egypt, we find that the first three plagues, the blood, the frogs and the lice - I mean the blood and the frogs I could probably put up with, but I don't think I would like the plague of lice. Those three, however, Israel suffered. They suffered with the Egyptians. It wasn't until the flies came along that God actually put a separation between Israel on the one hand and the Egyptians on the other. So certainly looking at the way that example is given to us, we can conclude, and certainly there is no reason to do otherwise that we would go through a certain degree of problems ourselves within the Church at this particular time.

Economically, there are almost certainly going to be failures in the Church. Some are probably going to go bankrupt, some are going to lose jobs. When you look at these failures that occur in the world, like in the 1930's, which was mentioned by Mervyn King, those in the world, many of them committed suicide that had their faith in the money markets, and they had all their wealth tied up in companies that actually went bankrupt. However, we must be different. Turn over to II Corinthians 4:3, there is a scripture which I keep on being drawn back to, because it certainly applies to us today. It applies to anybody who is trying to steer their way through this world God's way, because as it says here:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves [this is the ministry now, preaching to them], but Christ Jesus the Lord [the Sovereign, the Ruler]; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake [the ministry were there to actually encourage them on Christ's behalf to go in the way and direction that God the Father and Jesus Christ determine]. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [this was referring back to the tail end of chapter 3 now]. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels..." (II Corinthians 4:3-7)

We are only flesh and blood, and as we approach this time of crisis, this time of uncertainty within the world, we are approaching it with this treasure, this understanding of the Kingdom of God, this understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Good News of what is coming; but we have it in earthen vessels. II Corinthians 4:7:

"...that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us [the power that we must use in this process must be from God and not from us. And this is the result;] We are troubled on every side..." (II Corinthians 4:7-8)

It's interesting, that word 'troubled', Strong's G2346, where it says troubled on every side, it literally means pressed like a grape. They would 'trouble' - this particular word, apparently in Greek - when they squashed the grapes and got wine out of them. II Corinthians 4:8:

"troubled on every side yet not distressed..." (II Corinthians 4:8)

The word distressed, Strong's G4729, really means, be in a narrow place. So in other words, you are being squashed like a grape, but you will feel like you are not really in a narrow place at all. This is not just unusual, this is impossible. II Corinthians 4:8:

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus [the sacrifice of Christ], that the life also of Jesus [the same kind of way in which He walked when He was on this earth] might be made manifest in our body." (II Corinthians 4:8-10)

So we have very clearly an example here that even though we are under certain pressures, even though we are under certain uncertainties like we have at this present time, nevertheless the results; what in fact happens in our life, must reflect something which is very, very different from that.

But you know, we are going to face failures, particularly in this present economy. What I want to do today is talk about overcoming failure. I want to talk about overcoming failure because we are going to face them. We are going to face difficulties. It's all very well when you look at these examples like Gene Kranz who worked on the Apollo 13, who said; "Failure isn't an option." When you have a spacecraft halfway between here and the moon, you've got to look at things that way. Unfortunately for us, that's not quite always the case. What we normally have is it's more a 'never was', than a 'has been'. We find problems that come around on a regular basis.

There are areas that we can look at, and areas that should in fact help us to overcome failure; because it's something every one of us does need to look at and does need to do. The areas I want to look at, and break this subject down into:

1. We must use God's View of True Success. Because if we use another view of success, yes, we'll go just like the world, we'll go down the same pathway as the world. If we are genuinely using God's view of true success, then we've got God's mind point on the subject.

2. Learning from Others. It's a wise man that learns from another's mistakes. That's true in life and it's also true when we look at scriptures as well.

3. Leave the Past Behind. One of the things as far as repentance is concerned, is that we turn from one way and turn to another way. It is important that when we do turn to God's Way, that we leave the past behind. So often we can be morose and be overcome by failure because we don't leave the past behind, because we don't allow that shed blood of Christ to cover and completely get rid of the sin that has occurred.

4. Using Each New Day as a New Day. Because we do have a new day every single time we get up. It's something we lose as we get older. As a child you get up, and it's a new day and you have an entire day ahead of you. I can still remember the feeling, but as you get older, that seems to disappear. It's just, Oh, one more, more of these days.

5. When we do Fall. We need to repent and then get back up again. We will fall down, we are going to fall down. We are going to find there are failures there, but there is the case where we need to get back up again.

6. The Need to Reach Forward. Where it is all leading, is that we need to reach forward. We need to focus forward.

If we apply all these areas, and other areas undoubtedly in the subject, but nevertheless, if we apply these areas then it will help us in the subject of overcoming failure. Failures that we all have, that we all have even though each one of us will have different areas that we fail in. Nevertheless, we all have them.

Using God's View of True Success (PLAY FROM 09:38)

Let's first of all deal with this subject of using God's view of true success and failure. Turn over to I Timothy 6:6. In the world, and certainly when we are looking at where it talks about the longest era of turmoil in memory, he is talking purely financially. He is talking purely financially, but the impact of that financial turmoil will then impact on all the other areas as well. I think it is not going to be just financial by any stretch. Certainly if you have the bombing of Iran, that is going to have repercussions well beyond merely the financial areas:

"But godliness with contentment is great gain ['godliness', Strong's G2150, literally, means good worship, you're approaching God in the right way]. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment [covering, it doesn't say raiment, it says covering, that includes the house, somewhere to live as well] let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich [set their minds on being rich] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is [a] root of all [kinds of evil, is better translated]: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things [get away, get your mind on something else, in a different direction]; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on [by doing this, by setting your minds in a different direction] eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." (I Timothy 6:6-12)

In other words, if you have been going in the right way, you make sure that you continue to go in that right way.

It's almost like somebody who goes onto a playing field to play; say, American football, and they get the ball and put it in the middle of the field, the whistle goes, and they run forward and they grab the ball, and go through all the defense and they push the defense away, and they get through all the various tackles and everything else that the defense throws at it, get on the other side and you touchdown. Wonderful! The only problem is, you're supposed to be playing soccer. That's the problem. The referee doesn't look upon that as a try. The referee looks upon that as a foul!

The difficulty is, when you think about it, the referee is God, and a lot of people are playing the wrong game, they are playing the wrong game. They think that by amassing an amount of money, and they do whatever they want to, to get this money, or they get whatever else physically that they want, and whoever gets to the end with the most has won the game. But that's not the rules of the game the referee has actually got. The referee is actually conducting a different game altogether, it's called righteousness, it's called being converted, it's called becoming a very child of God. That's the problem.

The difficulty is, if we start going down the world's way, and we start playing the same game the world is playing, we will get miserable. Why? Because the game is wrong. The game itself is off track. We are playing say, American football, when we should be playing soccer. Here, it says: "But thou, O man of God, flee these things..." (I Timothy 6:11) get your mind on what is important, which is righteousness. Why? "Fight the good fight of faith [Why? Because that will], lay hold on eternal life..." (I Timothy 6:12). It is the character development that is important. That is the focus of God. If we turn to II Peter 1:1 it says:

"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us [here are all of us together having the same kind of precious faith] through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ [they gave us, they opened the mind, they illuminated us to the truth]: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord [the Sovereign that is over us], According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue [we are looking forward to glory and virtue in the future, glory and with the right kind of virtue in the future to apply to this world]: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature [God-like nature], having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (II Peter 1:1-4)

So the focus that Peter brings out here, the focus is on the divine nature, knowing that the game we are actually in is not heaping physical wealth, having the perfect family. It is the relationship within that family. It is the work that we do, the way we manage our wealth. Yes, all of these things impact on the subject. But, the subject is that we do it God's Way. That we go along in life following God's direction.

If we turn over to Revelation 21:4, again in this topic of using God's view of true success and failure, so that if we are going to cope with failures, let's make sure that the failures are real. Here it says:

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes [here is the focal point, where we are aiming for eventually]; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new [He is in the process of creating all things new, and He is creating something new in us, that's the game He's playing; if we're playing something different, we've got the wrong game, when we get to the end of the game, we won't have won]. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely [it's there for the taking, you have to work towards it certainly, but you don't have to go ahead and pay money for it]. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:4-7)

That's the goal, that we will actually be the children of God and inherit, because of being that child of God - the God that owns all things - we therefore inherit all things. The universe, everything, anything that is made. Being a child with our elder brother, Jesus Christ. But I want you to notice that it doesn't end there. This verse doesn't end there. Remember there are no verses in the original. So Revelation 21:8 says:

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

They will be in the second death, they will cease to be. I want you to notice the first two things that He mentions in this context of; "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; my son. But the fearful and unbelieving..." (Revelation 21:7-8). If we are fearful and unbelieving, then we can't go ahead and overcome. If you like, we are fearful of failure. Fear of failure is a real problem with all of us if we aren't careful.

Make sure that we do have God's view of true success and true failure. We don't need to fear failure. It's important that we don't...that we aren't fearful, we're not unbelieving. We trust God to go ahead and create His righteousness in us.

Learning from Others (PLAY FROM 18:29)

If we go back to I Corinthians 10:6, and in this aspect of learning from others, we can certainly learn from others that have lived previously in Old Testament times:

"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." (I Corinthians 10:6-7)

Now, are we idolaters? Do we set something before the true God or do we worship the true God in a way that is inappropriate? Trying to look upon God almost like a genie in a bottle that you go to when you need Him, but then we don't go ahead and put ourselves fully under His control and authority. I Corinthians 10:8:

"Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand." (I Corinthians 10:8)

Again, do we really appreciate our calling? Do we commit fornication mentally, spiritually or obviously physically as well? But, I'm talking about spiritually which certainly applies. I Corinthians 10:9:

"Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also [put Christ to the test], and were destroyed of serpents [we can read these examples that have been recorded for us, we can either learn easy, or we can learn hard; one way or another, we will need to learn]. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." (I Corinthians 10:9-10)

I know down in North Devon, there was a foghorn. It was called Moaning Minnie. Whenever the fog used to come down, Moaning Minnie would start up, and it would go Burrrrr, and a few seconds later it would go Burrrrr again. It would do that right the way through the night because the ships needed to be warned. Every time you went to that area and it was foggy, Moaning Minnie would be moaning. It was given the name because it is like so many people. Every time you come across them; Ohhhh it's terrible, Ohhhh I wish it wasn't, Ohhhh; and every single breath is almost like Moaning Minnie. That's the reason that particular foghorn on the coast was given the name. But I Corinthians 10:10 says:

"Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer [get a view which is different, here, we're looking at examples]. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the [ages] are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed [listen to what they have to say] lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10:10-12)

Understand from what has actually been given to us in days gone by. I know when I'm talking to young people who have been brought up in the Church, and are in their teens, I have said on a number of occasions; "Look, what you need to do is find out a little bit about life." People that have come to me and asked for baptism and have been in the Church all the way through, and they want to then be baptized, which is only natural, which is right and the direction that they need to go in.

As I've said before, there are two things; it is faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the life of Christ that will be lived thereafter. But there is also repentance. Repentance is turning from one way, and turning to another way, turning to God's Way in everything. So a young person has got to be able to turn. He's got to be able to look at one way, and make a conscious decision that they are not going to go that way and that they are going to turn to the other way.

Now they have been brought up in the Church all the time, therefore they can see the way they are choosing to go, but do they really know what they turn from? You don't have to go out into the world to do that, but you've got to keep your eyes open. You've got to live a little bit. You can't just drift out of school at age 15 or 16 and then be baptized. You've got to have a rational decision making process. It is a case of looking at your friends, looking at the world around you. Have your eyes open and watch what people do and how this affects people.

You can see the pathway. You can see people who go the right way. You can see people who go the wrong way, and you see the results of both different ways. It's the same thing. You can go back and see the examples, both in real life and also in scripture, which was once real life, and we can make rational decisions that way.

So as far as overcoming failures, one area is that we can learn from other people. We don't have to go and make all the failures ourselves. We can either learn hard, or we can learn easy, but we will learn one way or another. The easy way is by looking at examples. Hebrews 12:16, we find here an example is given of Esau. Now here it is being applied and you see how Paul, or the writer of Hebrews is applying this example and getting information out of this example, something that we can do:

"Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." (Hebrews 12:16)

Now again if a young person is having the mind of a fornicator that goes out and basically spreads his seed around, that is the mindset of Esau who despised his birthright. Despised the fact that he had something that was going to go on in a lineage, and it is the same kind of mindset. So here we see Paul drawing the parallel there. He also drew the parallel and learned from Esau's example, Hebrews 12:17:

"For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." (Hebrews 12:17)

Now the repentance here is actually the repentance as far as Isaac, his father was concerned. Isaac didn't change his mind, even though he [Esau] sought it carefully with tears, he didn't actually change his mind. Then he goes on to several other examples there.

Let's have a look at another one from the Old Testament. Here in I Samuel 13:8 we find Saul, and the way in which he approached his life, and we know that God rejected him. So we can learn from this example. Learning from the example of Saul, and learning something about failure, and the handling of failure from Saul, notice:

"And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him [from Saul that is]. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering." (I Samuel 13:8-9)

Now he had no right to do that because that was specifically for, not just the Levites, the Levites certainly did the preparation, but the actual offering was done by the priests. I Samuel 13:10

"And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the [Eternal]: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering [again, it was a justification that was being done here]. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the [Eternal] thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the [Eternal] have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue..." (I Samuel 13:10-14)

In other words, the mindset was just going in a wrong way. The failure, if we look at actually overcoming the failure, turn over to I Samuel 15:2 and we will see another example here, it says:

"Thus saith the [Eternal] of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together [to do the task; and in verse 9] But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." (I Samuel 15:2-4,9)

In other words, all the things they didn't really want, they got rid of those. Anything they wanted, they held onto that. Then down in I Samuel 15:14:

"And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? [Verse 20] And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the [Eternal], and have gone the way which the [Eternal] sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the [Eternal] thy God in Gilgal." (I Samuel 15:14,20-21)

It was the people's problem. Again, if we look at the failures, here is a failure, here is an example of a failure. Here is an example that we can learn from. This failure, he blamed other people, he didn't get to grips with his own problem, he didn't repent the way David did. David made some horrendous problems, horrendous sins, but his attitude, his approach was totally different.

If we are going to go ahead and learn, and we learn from others, we don't have to learn the hard way. We can go back in scriptures and we can look at what happens in real life now, at examples that we can see in real life. I can think of an occurrence literally in the last month, where something very similar to this situation with Saul has occurred. Not in my personal life, but in my dealings with other people, where somebody has come back and said to me; "Oh, other people wanted this and therefore I have to go along with it." They have literally said that. Yet that is absurd. Why not go back and learn the lesson here and therefore you learn that is not a response. That is not the kind of response that God is looking for.

Leaving the Past Behind (PLAY FROM 29:18)

So when we are looking at overcoming failure, we are looking certainly at learning from others and one of the keys of overcoming failure is that we leave the past behind us. Turn over to Romans 3:10, here Paul brings out something that all of us need to understand and all of us need to keep in mind, and that is:

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one [that includes you, me, everybody; we all go ahead and fail, we all sin, we all fail in certain respects]: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God [we all want to go our own way]. They are all gone out of the way [God's Way], they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good [that's spiritual righteousness he's talking about], no, not one." (Romans 3:10-12)

So every single one of us has gone astray. We have got to understand that when we are looking at leaving the past behind, that the fact that we have sinned is nothing unusual when we are looking at humankind. We and every single other human being, apart from Christ, Himself, have sinned and every single one of us therefore need to repent and turn from that sin and leave that past behind us. If you skip down to Romans 3:23 it says:

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God [but then what happens is we are]; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" (Romans 3:23-24)

Buying back, in other words, getting that relationship with God re-established again. It's the getting it re-established again when we leave the past behind. When we turn to God and we make that conscious decision to turn to God and to turn to His way, leaving the past behind us. Romans 3:25:

"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [a mercy seat] through faith in his blood [we have the faith that's in His blood, but we turn then to His way], to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past..." (Romans 3:25)

All that is in the past, doesn't matter what we've done. On repentance, when we come before God and we accept that sacrifice of Christ, the whole thing is blotted out. This is where we will go into having a new day - everyday. We can go and come before God in a repentant frame of mind, and that gives us then, a new day. It gives us a new start. It allows us to leave the past behind. It is absolutely essential that we do leave that past behind, and that we do not keep going back to it. If we keep going back to it, we just keep going back to the way we were before. Does the dog go back to his vomit? The dog does, but we shouldn't. We shouldn't be doing that. Here in Romans 3:25:

"Whom God hath set forth to be a [mercy seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time [if you are in a repentant frame of mind, you come before God and repent of past sins, then His righteousness, is ascribed to us so that we can then move forward - in His righteousness - and move forward following His way from that time forward] ... his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith." (Romans 3:25-27)

We have the faith in that sacrifice, that puts the past back and we have the faith in the creative power of God that then builds for the future. That's the point that we should be at every single time that we come before God and repent.

The past has got to be put in the past and left in the past, and not gone back and trawled over. I find that so many people will trawl over the past. They'll go back and trawl over it and say; "Oh, I'm the way I am because of the past." Well that past should have been left. That past should be covered. That past should be left behind. If we are going to overcome failure, those failures have got to be in the past. That's the key point. It's the key area that we need to be understanding. I John 1:1:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life [this is the One that actually gave the Law originally, He walked in a way that exemplified that Law, that exemplified the Spiritual Law of God, because He was God in the flesh]; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" (I John 1:1-2)

That life which was with the Father, that Individual was actually made flesh and walked as a human being. John actually roamed the hills with this Individual. I John 1:3:

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. [this Individual who was with the Father initially, then became His Son by the resurrection from the dead; He became a full born Son of God]. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full [now somebody who has overcome failure, their joy is full, they fill that joy up]. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all [if we are going to be the sons of God, there must be no darkness at all]. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" (I John 1:3-6)

If we walk from this point forward, and we are walking in a way that is in darkness, going down just the ways of the world, we are liars. We are not going in God's Way at all. We have got to walk in the light. I John 1:7:

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin [if we are repentant and we are turning from our way to God's way continually, then all the past is left behind and we are walking then as we need to walk]. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us [remember this Individual he was talking about, this Word of Life, He was Truth, He had truth in Him]. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:7-9)

So leaving that past behind us, is certainly something that is vital. Even in the world, it's recognized to leave the past behind us. Remember the rhyme that is kind of a prayer that is ascribed to various people. Thomas Aquinas was one - I don't think it was him; but there is a guy called Reinhold Niebuhr, whoever he was, said:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

There is a great deal of truism in that. A better one than that I found also, saying exactly the same thing, that says:

"For every ailment under the sun, there is a remedy or there is none. If there be one then try to find it, if there be none then never mind it."

Which I think is a little more humorous, but the past does need to be left behind us. Turn back to Ephesians 5:25, talking about husbands and wives and talking about the relationship between Christ and the Church, and how Christ deals with the Church, and what the Church and the position of the Church actually is. Notice here:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25)

Now the only way that we are going to be holy and without blemish as that Church is to have the past wiped out. The past has got to be wiped out, and the only way the past is wiped out is that we are repentant. Our intent is to turn at anytime we see anything that is against the Way of God. We turn from it and we turn back to the Way of God again. That is repentance. We have the faith in the shed blood of Christ to wipe the past out and the faith in the resurrected Christ to, from that point forward to give us the strength and the power necessary to live the kind of life that we need to. That is the process, that is the entire process. Ephesians 5:27:

"That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:27)

Without blemish. The idea that we can do that, or Christ has done it all for us is total nonsense. That is not the way it works at all. That is what we are aiming for. That is what God wants of us. That's what Christ is doing, washing us by the water of the Word. Changing our lives so that we become a living Word of God the same as He was a living Word of God, exemplifying the Way of God in that light.

So, if we are overcoming failure, whatever the failure is, that is a vital point, that we do leave the past behind and that we allow the past to go, and that, that failure therefore is left behind as well.

Using Each New Day (PLAY FROM 40:34)

Turn over to Matthew 6:11; a key of doing that is that each day we should remain repentant. We should come before God in a repentant frame of mind and we therefore pray for the day, and each day is something new.

As I said, as a child, I still vividly remember summer holidays were wonderful. Summer holidays just went on and on and on. I mean it went on for five or six weeks, something like that. That is eternity! Eternity went on right through the summer! You wake up and the sun would be shining and the birds would be singing and you've got all kinds of adventures to go to. You know - the streams to be dammed, and all kinds of trees to be climbed, and dens to be built, and everything else, and not a care in the world. You just go running out, until of course you've got chores to do and so on. But here it says:

"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11)

This day. It doesn't say for tomorrow and the next day and the next day, but 'this' day, our daily bread. It goes on, right the way through to Matthew 6:34 where it says:

"Take therefore no thought [no anxious thought, become unglued, is what it literally means, come apart at the seams] for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34)

If we are overcoming failure, and so often these failures can drag us down. If we live in day-tight compartments, and that's what we've been given. We have been given days. We go to sleep at night. God didn't have to have us sleep at night. God didn't have to do it that way. He did it, to give us a lump of time that we can get a handle on. A lump of time that we can worry about and; "...Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34). Don't come unglued. Don't go to pieces over tomorrow because you don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. As we have brought out previously, the past needs to be left behind us. If we are going to overcome failure, these are vital keys, these are vital tools that are needed. Psalm 143:7:

"Hear me speedily, O [Eternal]: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit [they that are about to die]. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee." (Psalm 143:7-8)

So what's he doing? In the morning he's lifting up his soul to God, his very being to God, and he's praying. He says "Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning..." (Psalm 143:8). It's daily prayer, and it is something that we need. We need daily prayer. Each new day that is something that we need and we need to make use of this.

Lamentations 3:15, a book that we don't tend to read very much; but after Jeremiah there is the Book of Lamentations. We find the woes being given, which Lamentations tends to be, because Josiah died and Lamentations is the prophecies which Jeremiah knew were about to occur, which were about to befall Judah. It says:

"He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes." (Lamentations 3:15-16)

Remember, it's a poetic book, but it does get the point across. My teeth are broken with gravel. It's like eating gravel. You just have to have one stone that happens to be unwashed from somewhere. One thing I hate is eating sandwiches on a beach. You eat half a beach and then one or two sandwiches as well. You have these gravel stones. Lamentations 3:17:

"And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the [Eternal]: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall [he's really down in the dumps, as he sees himself]. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." (Lamentations 3:17-21)

It's because of this, therefore I have hope. It's the overcoming the failure, you can see all the problems and all the difficulties and we're looking forward into a time that is going to be the greatest time of trouble that has ever been. We know that the first three plagues of Ancient Egypt were actually suffered by the Israelites themselves. There is a very good chance that we have to go through something similar as the initial introduction into the tribulation, because it says; "the dragon was wrath with the woman and actually pursued the woman." (Revelation 12:13-15 paraphrased). And it talks about being; "...hated of all nations for my name's sake." (Matthew 24:9). So whatever it is, it doesn't sound like we're going to just have a wonderful time and just flit off to a place of safety.

It says here that, my teeth are broken with gravel stones and all these problems are there, but Lamentations 3:21 says:

"This I recall to my mind, therefore [because of this] have I hope. It is of the [Eternal's] mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (Lamentations 3:21-22)

The focus is on Him. The focus is on the Eternal because He has given us this life. He's the One, not a man, not an authority, not the problems that we face, not the monetary situation that we happen to find ourselves in, the lack of a job, the lack of whatever it is; all the difficulties we have at the end of this age. Lamentations 3:23:

"They are new [these mercies, these compassions] every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The [Eternal] is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." (Lamentations 3:23-24)

New every morning, those mercies, that faithfulness, that compassion, and as we get onto our knees every single day and we can understand that here is a packet. Just like as a child, here was a packet, a whole day to spend all to myself to do whatever it is I am about to do. Now it doesn't always happen that way for us as adults, but nevertheless, it's a new day. It's a new day and a new start. It's something that we do need to make sure that we hold onto.

When we Fall, Repent and Get Back Up (PLAY FROM 47:45)

Point number five is that when we do fall, it is important that we repent, we change, we turn and then we get back up again. We don't give up. Defeat isn't falling, defeat is staying down. Staying down is defeat.

Certainly when you are looking at children learning to walk. We see it with our own children, we see it with our grandchildren. They learn to walk. They get up, and manage to stand and then kind of totter around and then they start to understand. First of all, the feet go away walking and the body stays where it is; and they fall over backwards and that goes on for a few days. Then eventually they understand that if you lean forward and keep up with it, you'll do alright. Even to this day, when we are in cars, we tend - if we want to go faster - we lean forward because that's the way it is. That's what we learned in those days when we were just learning to walk. If a child fell down once and then said; "That's it, I'm not going to try that again. That's the end of that. I'm going to sit around forever and a day!" It's not going to work.

Even this video I sent out, the link on this dog, this big dog robot. I don't know whether you've seen that thing, but it's quite amazing. It's almost like two people with their knees pointing towards each other and the thing can walk. It can walk over a pile of blocks. It can walk through snow. Really, it's like a packhorse. That's what it is. You can imagine that that, I would have thought, is programed in such a way that it has to learn. Somebody then kicked it in the side and pushed it over, and the thing then went and stabilized itself; and walked down a hill onto some ice and was all over the place, but again it was stabilizing itself as it was walking. It was learning all the time. If it fell down and never learned anything, you couldn't program something like that; it had to be programed into it to learn how to walk. It's the same with a child as well.

If we turn over to Matthew 25:24 we find an example here; and this passage of scripture, the more I look at it the more I am convinced that it's actually talking very much to us today, and warning us of things today. It says:

"Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid [remember what it said; "...the fearful, and unbelieving..." (Revelation 21:8) were without; it talks about the sons of God that are actually overcoming, overcoming failure. Here is this individual saying; 'Oh no, I tried it once. I'm not going to try that again.'], and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant..." (Matthew 25:24-26)

As I say, staying down is defeat. Staying down is defeat. Overcoming failure means that when we fall and we repent and we leave the past behind, we get up again and we go forward the way we need to go forward. That is essential that we understand that. Turn over the page to Matthew 27:3, and you find a specific example of this and one who basically gave up, it says:

"Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." (Matthew 27:3-5)

That's a worldly response to it. Again, the mind is totally on themselves; he never repented, he didn't want to go ahead and completely change into God's Way of life. His mind was still focused on himself, but in fact he wanted the result to be different. He was very much like Esau again. Turn back to Proverbs 24:16, you find here:

"For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief." (Proverbs 24:16)

In other words, if you fall and you don't rise up it says here, the just man falls seven times but he rises again, he gets up and goes forward. Even looking physically you can look at various examples. I mean, Edison and his lightbulb, this is a classic one. Was it about a thousand different elements that he felt that he tried? From horsehair to whatever until he finally came up with tungsten for the filaments of the lightbulb? That's the incandescent lightbulb. I know a clock and watch maker and repairer and he said; "A man who never made a mistake, never made anything." It's true. A man who never makes a mistake, never makes anything. It is a case that we need to turn, if we find horsehair doesn't work we go ahead and try #737, or the next one whatever it happens to be.

Psalm 145:14 explains where it talks about; For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief." (Proverbs 24:16). Here we find why, why he does rise again after having falling seven times, it says:

"The [Eternal] upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their [food] in due season." (Psalm 145:14)

It is the Eternal who raises up. Certainly when we understand that, it is something that we can look to God for. When we fall we need that help; if we go to God and ask Him for that help, He will give us that help.

The Need to Reach and Focus Forward (PLAY FROM 54:45)

And the final point is that we need to be reaching forward. The classic scripture for that is Philippians 3:12:

"Not as though I had already attained [talking about the resurrection of the dead], either were already perfect [Paul knew he wasn't perfect, you just read Romans 7:14-21 to understand that, we are not perfect, we're not there yet]: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12)

In other words, we are called by the Father, given to Christ Jesus, to be trained, to be instructed and apprehended by Him in that way and therefore we then are apprehending that same mind that He has. We are apprehending that, while being apprehended by Him. Philippians 3:13

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended [I haven't got that mind yet]: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind [we've already covered that, we need to leave those things behind once repented of, they need to be left in the past; if we are overcoming failure that is certainly a large part of it], and reaching forth unto those things which are before [that is just as important, that we reach forward], I press [strive] toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

It goes on and that high calling as it says in Philippians 3:21:

"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:21)

That's the power that is going to be given. But it is only given if the mind is ready for that power to be given to us. Reaching forward and having a forward perspective is essential for that.

It's interesting, when a mother comes to the birth of a child, the mind is not on the pain of labour. The mind is on the future and the fact that there will be a child in the crib. The crib has got to be filled with a child, and that is where the focus needs to remain during that time. Over in Jude 1:20 it says:

"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life [the focus is looking forward to that eternal life and the kind of life that we will have]. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh [we're in this together, it's not something that we are just doing by ourselves]. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling [overcoming failure, this is the One, this is where our focus needs to be. Reaching forward, yes but we need to understand that we are reaching forward with Him that is able to keep us from falling], and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy," (Jude 1:20-24)

He's working with us. He's doing that. He's working with each of us individually. He is going to make sure that we are not failures. If we let Him do that, we allow Him to work with us, whatever our background, whatever our problems, whether it be divorce, or the whole gamut of problems we may have had in the past, whatever those problems may have been. If we've got children in trouble, maybe gone bankrupt, or lost jobs or whatever the problems may have been. Jude 1:24 says:

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 1:24-25)

That's what we need to keep our minds on, keep our focus on, reaching forward knowing that God is intending to do that. If we go back to Revelation 21:7 just to refer to where we read before, it says:

"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."(Revelation 21:7)

You can read right over the top of that; "He that overcometh [it's aiming forward, then he] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:7). That's the thing that is linked in there, into the focus. So we are reaching forward, but it's the overcoming that is necessary. Now turn back to Revelation 2:5, and if we notice what it says to every single Church era, every single Church that is mentioned here:

"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent [turn from one way, you leave the past behind, you turn towards God, reaching forward for the goal that is there], and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [you need to listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches, plural, and that's all of us; listen to what it says here]; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life..." (Revelation 2:5-7)

So to this era, and addressed to all who will have the ears to hear what was being said to the Churches. That's every single one of us. It's overcoming that is necessary for this particular group of people and to all of us. Notice in Revelation 2:10:

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer [Smyrna went through horrendous persecution, but it was just a case of them hanging in there]: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [plural again, notice that's God talking to all of us, it's not just to that particular era, it's every one of us]; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Revelation 2:10-11)

Remember what we saw over in Revelation 21:7? It's being expanded here. It is the overcoming. It is reaching forward. It is not just having the sins forgiven and having the past blotted out, but it's going forward. Revelation 2:15:

"So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent [turn from that]; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [again addressed to us]; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone...[again, overcoming, verse 20] Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Revelation 2:15-17,20)

Now that can be perhaps physically there was an individual at that time, during that era, but certainly spiritually. Because it goes on the same way in Revelation 2:29:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 2:29)

Here is this individual in Revelation 2:22:

"Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds [they turn from their deeds. Verse 25] But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [Verse 29] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 2:22,25-26,29)

Overcoming again is essential. The things sacrificed to idols, Christmas and Easter and the things Mr Armstrong was mentioning on The World Tomorrow, today, that's the kind of thing that he's talking about. Remember, God has got a long memory. He knew where these things originated. Revelation 3:3:

"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. [Verse 5] He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life...He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 3:3,5-6)

Again referring to all of us. Let's go through all of them. Revelation 3:11:

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown [this is very applicable to each of us]. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out...He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 3:11-13)

Revelation 3:19:

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock...To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 3:19-22)

Every single case, in every single era, it is "...he that overcomes...". It is absolutely essential that we must overcome failure. We are going to have failures. We are moving into difficult times. Some are going to fail in the Church. They are going to fail in the Church in a financial sense, they are going to lose jobs, they are going to have difficulties. All of us have failed to some degree or another. But it is important that we overcome failure. We overcome the problems like that.

These points that I have given you aren't everything, they aren't exhaustive by any stretch, but we do need to make sure that we use God's view of true success. That we need to make sure that we learn from other people, both now and in the example that we have been given in scripture. That we leave the past behind. That we allow that past to die its death, and to move forward from that. That we use each new day, as a new day and we approach it in the way God indicates that we pray for the day. That when we fall that we repent, yes, but we also get back up, like a child learning to walk. That we do those things. And that we reach forward, that we focus forward.

So let's just finally again read what it says in Revelation 21:8:

"But the fearful, and unbelieving [and they are grouped then with the] the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

So if we are fearful of failure, that is the essence of it. Remember the one that had the one talent and he buried it because he was fearful. We must understand that it is repentance and faith. Those are the two things we have at baptism. That's why they are so vitally important at baptism. It's repentance, turning from one way and going towards God's Way, yes. But it's faith. Faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the past sins and faith in the Living Christ to then bring us to fulfilment. As it says in Revelation 21:7:

"He that overcometh [it's overcoming failure, that's a large part of it] shall inherit all things [the entire universe, everything; "...fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:21). ]; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:7)