Verse in focus:
“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?’”
Everyone wants to be a success. I have never met anyone who purposely set out to be a failure. Undoubtedly, this is why so much has been written on the topic “How To Be a Success,” and these books are popular and bestsellers. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” The simple reality is that failure is one of those ugly realities of life – a common experience to all of us to some degree. Thus, the ability to handle failure in its various forms and degrees is a vital part of the spiritual life and another sign of maturity.
Let’s look at some background in the life of Joshua.
- Born a slave, he had now risen to become the leader of Israel.
- Moses chose him to be one of the 12 sent to scout the land of Canaan.
- Years later, Moses appointed Joshua to lead Israel into Canaan.
- Joshua was then commissioned by the Lord to lead his people which can be found in Joshua 1.
Not only that, God kept his word, and under the leadership of Joshua, the children of Israel experienced victory after victory.
- We read in the 3rd chapter of Joshua where the Israelites come to the flooded Jordan River, and God tells them to carry the ark of the covenant and wade out into the water, and ad they did, the waters parted and they crossed on dry land.
- We can read in the 6th chapter the battle they’ve won in Jericho.
GOD HAS BROUGHT THEM FROM VICTORY TO VICTORY, but now we reach a place where they suffer defeat or failure.
In the 7th chapter of Joshua, we read that the children of Israel acted unfaithfully. They got too big for their spiritual britches, and tried to do things their way, rather than God’s way, and they suffered defeat. They sent a few thousands to conquer Ai and they were soundly defeated. And this is where we come to our text, we find Joshua on his face, defeated, and in despair.
We all experienced the same, right? Wherein you’re in the height of your success, at the peak of doing your best, savoring the smell of triumph and then suddenly, “BAM” failure comes. Failure is inevitable. It comes…but the question is, “How can we handle it?” or “What must we do to rise up from failure?”
Tonight, I’ll be talking to you on what must we do to cope with failure.
Now in the verse that we read a-while-ago, Joshua was having a little pity party. He blamed God for the defeat. He gave up. And he laid there on his face questioning God, and whining about the situation.
And God said to him, “Get thee up.” In NIV, “Stand up!” What are you doing down on your face. Israel has sinned, and violated my covenant.” In other words God said “What are you blaming me for? It’s not my fault. You are the one that has sinned.”
The first principle that you need to understand in rising up from failure is:
1. STOP QUESTIONING AND BLAMING GOD
It was written in Joshua 7:7, And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!” (NIV) He started in…God, why in the world did you bring us to this place? Did you bring us here to suffer defeat, to be less than you promised? Notice that the first thing that went wrong was that Joshua begins to blame God. He literally blamed God for their failure. Joshua had forgotten all the good things that the Lord has done in his life and in the lives of the whole Israel. He forgot that God:
- Sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt.
- Parted the Red Sea for them.
- Fed them with manna and quail when they were hungry.
- Gave them water from the rock.
- Led them across the flooded Jordan River.
- Enabled them to conquer mighty Jericho, and much, much more!
When they were experiencing God’s might and power, they are celebrating and really depending on Him, they even made an altar in remembrance of God’s goodness in their lives, but NOW AFTER ONE DEFEAT, ONE SETBACK, JOSHUA IS BLAMING GOD, AND QUESTIONING HIM!
This sounds so much like a lot of folks today. One bad situation arises, one obstacle stands in our way, one failure, and we forgot all that God has done for us.
- We forget about how he saved us.
- We forget about how he gave his Son for us.
- We forget about how many times he has delivered, healed our sicknesses and provided for our needs.
- We forget how the Lord has given us jobs or businesses, how He had given us promotions and triumph over all the difficulties we have had before!
“MADALI TAYONG MAKALIMOT SA HHLAHAT NG MGA MABUBUTING BAGAY NA NAGAWA NA SA ATIN NG ATING DIYOS.”
We get on our little self-pity pot, and start questioning God. We can even say, “God you don’t love me…” If you loved me, I wouldn’t be going through this…”
How dare us blame or question God when we suffer defeat or failure. More than likely, we have suffered defeat, because we somewhere have let sin come into our lives! We have not given what we were supposed to give. We have not gone where we must go. We have not said what we were supposed to say. Or maybe, we have said something we were not supposed to say. Before blaming God and pointing your fingers on Him about your failure, try assessing your self first. “DAHIL PALAGI AT PALAGI NA DAHIL DIN SA ATING KAGAGAWAN KUNG BAKIT TAYO AY BUMABAGSAK.” YOU MUST STOP QUESTIONING GOD. Tell to the person next to you, “Stop questioning God!”
Now in verse 8, Joshua focused so much and was so worry about their defeat or failure. JOSHUA HAD BECOME PROBLEM CONSCIOUS INSTEAD OF POWER CONSCIOUS. INSPITE OF ALL THE BLESSINGS AND PROMISES, HE HAS FOCUSED ON ONE DEFEAT ON ONE PARTICULAR FAILURE!
The second principle that we must understand is:
2. STOP FOCUSING ON YOUR DEFEAT OR FAILURE
On July 4, 1953, Florence Chadwick waded into the water of Catalina Island. She intended to become the first woman to swim the 21 miles from the island to the California coast. Long distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.
The water was numbing cold that day. The fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with riffle fire. She swam more than 15 hours before she asked to be taken out of the water. Her trainer encouraged her to swim on since they were so close to land, but when Florence looked, all she saw was fog. So she quit…less than one-mile from her goal.
Florence Chadwick failed…
Two months after her failure, Florence Chadwick walked off the same beach into the same channel and swam the distance, setting a new speed record, because she never focused on her failure.
Snap out of focusing to your failure. It will not help you! Instead of focusing to your failure, focus your heart and mind to your upcoming success.
The great inventor Charles Kettering suggested that we must learn to fail intelligently. He said, “Once you’ve failed, analyze the problem and find out why, because each failure is one more step leading up to the cathedral of success. The only time you don’t want to fail is the last time you try.”
Here are three suggestions for turning failure into success:
- Honestly face defeat; never fake success.
- Exploit the failure; don’t waste it. Learn all you can from it; every bitter experience can teach us something.
- Never use failure as an excuse for not trying again.
You may not be able to reclaim the loss, undo the damage, or reverse the consequences, but you can make a new start—wiser, more sensitive, renewed by the Holy spirit, and more determined to do right.
That doesn’t mean we should go out and intentionally fail. It means that when we failed, we can learn from those mistakes. It has been said that the doorway to success is entered through the hallway of failure. Many failed initially only to succeed later. What have they’ve done? They have not focused on their failures! So I will say it again, STOP FOCUSING ON YOUR DEFEAT OR FAILURE!
The third principle is that:
3. NEVER WORRY ABOUT PUBLIC OPINION.
In verse 9, Joshua said, “…for the Canaanites shall hear of it.” He glossed up his worry, and tried to make it look like he was taking care of God’s best interest. He’s worried of what others might say, especially the Canaanites, about their failure.
And even to us, we tend to worry of what others might say to us when we fail. “ANO NA LANG SASABIHIN NG MGA FRIENDS KO, AMIGA, AMIGO, MGA KAPATIRAN KAPAG NALAMAN NILANG NAG-FAIL AKO? CHRISTIAN PA NAMAN AKO.” “PAANO NA SILA BIBILIB SA DIYOS NIYAN E MISMONG AKO NAG-FAIL?”
Let me tell you something… “GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF HIS OWN REPUTATION!” DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT HIM! “KUNG SA KABILA NG IYONG PAGBAGSAK, AT NANATILI KANG NAGTITIWALA SA ATING DIYOS, HE WILL LIFT YOU UP.” “HUWAG MO SILANG PAKINGGAN ANUMAN ANG KANILANG SASABIHIN LABAN SA IYO DAHIL SA IYONG PAGBAGSAK.” AND I WOULD LIKE YOU TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT GOD WILL LIFT UP HIS PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE DOWN.
People might condemn you and might even say that you’re not good enough to succeed, but let me tell you, our God is not interested about what others might tell you right now, His interest is to see you for what you can become. Because of failure, you may be looking at yourself as a lump of clay, but God sees a beautiful vase. You see a blank canvass, but God sees a finished painting. You see a lump of coal, but God sees a refined diamond. You see problems; God sees solutions. You see failures, God sees potential success.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW TONIGHT, THAT GOD HAS BROUGHT VICTORY TO MANY DEFEATED ONES. So therefore, STOP WORRYING ABOUT PUBLIC OPINION!
4. STAND UP FROM YOUR FAILURE.
In Joshua 8:1, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” After those words, in verse 3, Joshua and the whole army, move out to attack…” They have attained success…
Joshua never stayed defeated, a failure. He rose up from that failure. The same with what had happened to John Wesley. John Wesley wrote in his diary:
Sunday, A.M., May 5
Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday, P.M., May 5
Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday, A.M., May 12
Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.
Sunday, A.M., May 19
Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
Sunday, P.M., May 19
Preached on street. Kicked off street.
Sunday, A.M., May 26
Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.
Sunday, A.M., June 2
Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.
Sunday, P.M., June 2
Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.
John Wesley failed not just ones, twice, thrice but for so many times but he never made it an excuse to rise up from his failures or defeats.
Many dreams have slipped through the cracks because of a single failure. Turn failure into success by putting God first in your life. God is a success in all He does. Dr. Robert Schuller advises you to “turn your scars into stars.”
There is never a shortage of any kind with God. Take the example of air. No matter how much of it we breathe in, there is always more left. It will not run out. MANY OF THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN HISTORY HAVE BEEN DONE AGAINST IMPOSSIBLE ODDS.
The events that appear to be failures in our lives actually bring us to a greater success. But we have to want to succeed. Many failures are due to weak will. I don’t know anyone who succeeded without a will to succeed.
- Louie Pasteur received a C grade in Chemistry, but he developed the process of pasteurization of milk and a cure for rabies.
- Einstein flunked high school math. We are told he never learned how to tie his own shoelaces. But his theories revolutionized science as we know it.
- At the age of 65, Colonel Harlan Sanders was broke. Today, his success in Kentucky Fried Chicken business is known around the world.
But they have been known in history, not because they have not failed, but they REFUSED TO GIVE UP!
Brothers and sisters failures are inevitable they will come. “Our greatest glory is never in failing, but in rising each time we fall.” When you fail, stand up, rise up! God allows failure to come to teach us a lesson, but he never designed us to be a failure… “MAARING HINAHAYAAN NG ATING DIYOS ANG MGA PAGBAGSAK UPANG TURUAN TAYO NG MABUBUTING ARAL SA ATING BUHAY, NGUNIT HINDI NIYA DINESENYO NA IKAW AY MAGING TALUNAN.”
“Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.” When you faced failure, remember the story of Joshua, remember to stop questioning God, to stop focusing on your failure, to stop worrying about public opinion, and to rise up each time you fall…”