Posts Tagged 'Failure'

How To Guarantee Success

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As Christians, we should want to live the best life we can. That means glorifying God in everything we do, everywhere we go, every decision we make. That sounds like an impossibility. But if you are a serious Christian; if you are serious about your relationship with Jesus Christ, you should strive to achieve the impossible.

The good news is this: God has a way for you to never fail in your faith. If you follow these easy steps, you will always be a winner.

The bad news is this: Most of you won’t do anything to improve your life for Christ. That’s the cynic in me. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

Confess your sins

The first step in living a successful Christian life is so simple, most of us miss it. If we have failed, the cause of that failure is always sin.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

This seems to be a pretty simple, straight forward verse. But it’s a little deeper than it appears. There are three things going on in it.

First, the conditional part of the verse: If we confess our sins. Acknowledging our sins is something only we can do. It won’t work if somebody points them out to you. You must do the hard work of “confessing.” Without hiding them or covering them up, it is absolutely essential that Christians “fess up” to their sins. That means we don’t make excuses for them, we don’t try to justify our sinful behavior, and we don’t defend ourselves. We simply confess our sins to show repentance and to show that we have, in fact, received a new life. John doesn’t say how often we should do this or where, but if we repent daily, we should confess daily. In the original language, John’s admonition is a little clearer: “If we keep on confessing our sins,” he wrote.  Confessing, then, must be an ongoing thing.

Second: He is faithful and just. This is a statement of fact. We may be assured of forgiveness because God is “faithful and just.” God doesn’t scold you. He doesn’t chastise you when you come to Him confessing your sins. He’s not impatient with you. And He never, ever goes back on His word. There is no trick in gaining God’s forgiveness. He only requires our open, honest confession.

Lastly, here is what God will do: He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There is a finality to God’s forgiveness. There is no doubt He will do this. This forgiveness lasts for all eternity. The word John uses for “forgiveness” carries with it the idea of “cancelling a debt” or “dismissal of all charges.” When our sins are forgiven, they can never be recalled by God. The word for “cleanse” refers to a kind of purification process whereby the pollution of sin is wiped or washed away. That’s a pretty phenomenal thing to think about. The simple act of our confession results in not only our sins being forgiven and essentially forgotten, but God sees us completely clean and He is able to have fellowship with us and answer our prayers.

Surrender your will

These verses are like a snapshot of a sad period of Hebrew history:

O Israel, return to the Lord, your God, for you have been crushed by your sins. Bring your petition. Come to the Lord and say, “O Lord, take away our sins; be gracious to us and receive us, and we will offer you the sacrifice of praise. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle; never again will we call the idols we have made ‘our gods’; for in you alone, O Lord, the fatherless find mercy.” “Then I will cure you of idolatry and faithlessness, and my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be forever gone! (Hosea 14:1 – 4 TLB)

Hosea had a long and frustrating career as a prophet. It was frustrating because he try as he might to help his people, they seemed forever destined to keep on failing. An old man by chapter 14, once again he called on Israel to “return.” That was his favorite word. That was all he wanted: for his people to return to the Lord. God was calling His people to repent and return. Words must be followed by a corresponding action. A sinner repents (words) and he must return (action) to the Lord. Part of returning to the Lord means changing behavior. Specifically, Israel had to repent of three continual sins of failure: they relied on Assyria for salvation, they depended on Egypt for military aid, and, maybe worst of all, they depended on man-made idols for spiritual guidance and blessing. Each of these sins caused Israel to fail and fall further and further away from their God.

Imagine making something with your very own hands and then bowing down to worship it. Many Christians are doing just that. They worship their own talents and abilities. They worship their intelligence. They worship what they are doing and what they are able to do. Trouble is, they lose every time. If we as Christians want to be winners, we have to learn to surrender our wills to God. That’s not an easy thing to do. We want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. But that’s a recipe for failure. Surrendering your will is difficult, but if you want to win, you’ll have to figure out how to do it.

Consecrate your life

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1, 2 NIV)

“Consecration” is linked to sanctification – the process of becoming holy. Consecration an old fashioned word most of us have heard but don’t know what it means. Very simply, we consecrate ourselves to God by separating ourselves from the world. By virtue of our association with a Holy God, we are to become holy. Romans 12:1, 2 tells us how to do that. If you want to win at life as a Christian, you have to do what these two verses say. A lot of Christians don’t. And a lot Christians fail because they compromise instead of consecrate.

Just look at what Paul is saying here. True and proper worship has nothing to do with singing songs or clapping your hands. It’s living the consecrated life. It’s how you live your life – the things you do, the places you go. And it all starts in your head. It’s changing your habitual way(s) of thinking. When you do that, your actions will follow. That’s what consecration is all about. It’s seeing the world from a different perspective. When a Christian does that, he starts winning. He starts loosing when he starts thinking like the world, then acting like it.

Lay aside every weight

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Living a God-glorifying life isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes in living right, you feel like you’re living alone. But you are never alone because you are promised the enduring presence of God Himself. He promised to never leave or forsake one of His own.

Not only that, we’re in good company. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Moody, Spurgeon, and the countless believers – some with names most without – listed in Hebrews 11 serve as inspirations. They were men just like we are, subject to the same ups and downs we are. We are one with them – we are part of that group of saints from all the ages. That’s what the writer of Hebrews was trying to get across to his readers. Lord knows all believers need that kind of encouragement.

Very often in the New Testament, the Christian life is compared to a race – a foot race. Here, the athletes (Christians) are told to get rid of all the excess baggage of life that can slow us down. That sin keeps us from winning. It causes us to run slower, to stumble, to trip.

A lot of us Christians are weighed down with the baggage of the past. Old thoughts and attitudes. Old habits. Old associations. If we want to be winners, we have to get rid of those things.

In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. (1 Corinthians 9:24 – 26 TLB)

That was written by a serious Christian. Are you as serious? If you are, you’ll run with perseverance or patience. As Christians, the need for effort and hard work and patience cannot be understated. The people to whom this letter was written were suffering and growing impatient. They probably wondered why God wasn’t doing anything for them. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing. Maybe, in your discouragement and frustration, you’ve lost patience with yourself, your church, or your God. You’ll never win if you harbor those kinds of thoughts and emotions. If you want to increase your odds of winning, you need to be patient and you need to stick to it. You can’t give up the race. You need to trust the Lord.

During our time on earth, many things will happen that we don’t understand. There will be questions that have elusive answers or answers we won’t like. If you want to be a winner, you need to know that God knows the beginning from the end. It should be enough to know that He has all the knowledge and power we need and that He is the God of all grace. God doesn’t want you to lose. He’s made it possible for you win. Accept His help and start winning.

What Failure Does to a Christian

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From time to time in our Christian lives, we may fail. Thankfully, we have an Intercessor in Heaven who pleads our case before God. When we fail, as long as we own up to that failure, ask for forgiveness, and ask for the strength to not fail again, we’ll be all right. We’re not all right when we live in a state of continual failure. That just isn’t acceptable to God. Constant failure is more than just rebelling against God. It actually implies a number of other things.

A life of disappointment

For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me, the Fountain of living waters; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water! (Jeremiah 2:13 TLB)

This verse is a picture of Israel’s ingratitude toward the God who had done so much for them. How much did He love them? Here is the Lord speaking:

But I will not give you up—I will plead for you to return to me and will keep on pleading; yes, even with your children’s children in the years to come! (Jeremiah 2:9 TLB)

Israel’s continual backsliding – failures – made no sense at all in light of all God had done for the nation in the past.

Look around you and see if you can find another nation anywhere that has traded in its old gods for new ones—even though their gods are nothing. Send to the west to the island of Cyprus; send to the east to the deserts of Kedar. See if anyone there has ever heard so strange a thing as this. And yet my people have given up their glorious God for silly idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay. (Jeremiah 2:10 – 12 TLB)

In human terms, God was bewildered at how Israel was acting. It was not only rebellious and wrong, it was a strange thing for Israel to do. They literally gave up on God – the living and fresh water – to drink the stagnant, poisoned waters that flowed from the broken cisterns they themselves built. That kind of behavior was unthinkable. Yet Israel behaved unthinkably. In seeking to “build their own cisterns” – that is, provide for themselves without God’s help – they always settled for second best; for left overs; for whatever “blessings” they could muster and scrape together for themselves.

We may sneer and chuckle at the Israelites for their demented behavior, but are Christians any different? Look at those Israelites. They attempted to get along without God, and they did after a fashion. They limped along for a time, making cisterns that sort of held some water. But hey never had enough. Their water was never good enough. It always needed to be rationed. Naturally there was more to it than cisterns and water. The Lord’s point in bringing up the broken cisterns was to show how inadequate even their best efforts were. How many Christians are living the same way? They love the Lord. They’re born again. But they foolishly think they can “got it alone.” They think hat they can live according to their own set of their rules. They may experience some success along the way from time to time, and no doubt they “give God the glory,” not realizing that if they actually lived HIS WAY instead of their way, their success wouldn’t be adequate, it would be abundant and overflowing.

There are a lot disappointed Christians out there; Christians whose view of God is completely warped. Their God is fickle. Sometimes He answers prayers, sometimes not. He blesses, but never quite enough. He does one good thing but then two other things go wrong. The Christian life is a disappointing mystery to believers who are trying to live it according to their way.

A life of discouragement

Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.” (Deuteronomy 1:28 NKJV)

Most of us know the background of this verse. Moses and Israel had left Egypt and were standing on the very border of the Promised Land, the land God had given them. Before entering, though, Moses sent out spies to go in and spy out the land. When the spies came back, they gave a good news/bad news report. The land was bountiful, they said, but there were giants in the land. The report discouraged the people.

Dr McGee points out that establishing what amounted to a board or committee to go in and examine the land was where the failure began. It was completely unnecessary for the Israelites to spy out the land. God had already done that and decided it was perfect for His people to live in. But the people needed to figure it out for themselves. They needed to do it their way. They decided they needed a committee.

The good Doctor was on to something. The people, Moses included, just didn’t have enough faith in the Word of the Lord! Unbelief was their problem. God said it was a good land, but that good word wasn’t enough. Moses and his people felt they needed to do “do something.” And they did, and they failed. That failure led to an unnecessary addition of 40 more years of wandering around the desert, just outside the Promised Land.

Talk about discouraging! But Christians experience the same kind of discouragement when they do the same thing. God was with the Israelites out in the desert; He never abandoned them even though that forty-year sojourn was a kind of punishment for their failure in not going in a taking the land as they were supposed to. He still blessed them. He still provided for their needs. He still spoke to them. But it could have been so much better for everybody if Moses had just obeyed the Lord without question. So it is with us. We may be disobedient, but God is still with us. He still works with us. But even so, a disobedient Christian will always be a discouraged Christian because he will always have the knowledge that life didn’t have to turn out this way. If only he’d just believed, trusted, and obeyed.

A selfish life

How prosperous Israel is—a luxuriant vine all filled with fruit! But the more wealth I give her, the more she pours it on the altars of her heathen gods; the richer the harvests I give her, the more beautiful the statues and idols she erects. (Hosea 10:1 TLB)

How God had blessed Israel! And why wouldn’t He? He called her into existence. He loved her with an unending love. The blessings of the Lord literally overflowed. The psalmist knew how much God had done for the nation:

You brought us from Egypt as though we were a tender vine and drove away the heathen from your land and planted us. You cleared the ground and tilled the soil, and we took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with our shadow; we were like the mighty cedar trees, covering the entire land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. (Psalm 80:8 – 11 TLB)

The psalmist knew it, but the nation didn’t. Israel refused to acknowledge the blessings that had come from God. They took His blessings and used them for their own immoral and corrupt purposes rather than for the Lord. The more He blessed them, the more they took advantage of those blessings. Verse two tells us the root problem with Israel:

Their heart is divided… (Hosea 10:2a NKJV)

What is a “divided heart?” It’s a heart not completely devoted to God. It’s a heart that loves God but is having an affair with the world. It’s a heart that wants it all: it wants God and it wants the world. The problem with a “divided heart” is that it’s really a misnomer. There really isn’t such a thing. If God doesn’t have your whole heart, He really doesn’t have any of it.

The “divided heart” was Israel’s fatal flaw. It could also be yours. The prophet Elijah, a hundred years before Hosea, made the diagnosis when he asked this question of the people:

Then Elijah talked to them. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (1 Kings 18:21 TLB)

This is a huge problem in the church today. It has always been a huge problem n the church. James encountered it and wrote about it:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6 – 8 NKJV)

The “divided heart” way of living is the way of a failure. That kind of fence-walking leads only to instability and ruin. It did for Israel. It will for you, if you have a “divided heart” and “double mind.”

An unfruitful life

Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me. (John 15:4 TLB)

When a Christian is out of fellowship with Christ, his life will be unproductive and barren. It is possible for a Christian to straddle that fence between the kingdom and world and still be concerned about living for God; and following His will even while he isn’t. That kind of Christian will never accomplish anything of lasting value for the kingdom as long as his heart is in the world. It must be frustrating for a lukewarm believer – not feeling at home in the Kingdom and not really belonging to the world, either. It’s a fruitless existence.

A lukewarm life

Speaking of lukewarm, Revelation talks about what happens to a believer like that:

But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first. (Revelation 2:4 GNB)

But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! (Revelation 3:16 GNB)

That’s a message to Christians! A lukewarm Christian is sickening to the Lord. Yet lukewarmness is plaguing the church. It’s a plague worse than Ebola. How many Christians are infected with it? Those who are not in fellowship with the Body of Christ; those who aren’t sharing their faith with the lost; those who think their secret sins go unnoticed; those who think they can play both sides; those who aren’t interested in the things of God,those are believers who have become lukewarm. They’re in a perilous condition. They need to set things right with God before He takes drastic action!

A life of defeat

Constant failure in the Christian life leads inexorably to defeat after defeat after defeat.

But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up off your face! Israel has sinned and disobeyed my commandment and has taken loot when I said it was not to be taken; and they have not only taken it, they have lied about it and have hidden it among their belongings. That is why the people of Israel are being defeated. That is why your men are running from their enemies—for they are cursed. I will not stay with you any longer unless you completely rid yourselves of this sin.” (Joshua 7:10 – 12 TLB)

There are Christians who pray like Joshua. They whine and pray and plead and maybe shed a tear or two, and they may be as sincere as the day is long, but praying like that won’t do them any good.  Why?  Because God will not answer a prayer prayed by someone who has a problem that comes between them and Himself. Root out the problem and God will once again be accessible. In Joshua’s case, he was unaware of a problem; Joshua didn’t know that Israel had sinned. But what he didn’t know greatly effected his prayers. God told him what the root of the problem was and that problem was why he was experiencing defeat.

You may be experiencing defeats like that and you don’t know why. It’s possible to be unaware of the things in your life shielding you from God. It’s possible to be just far enough from God that you are unable to discern the sin in your life that is causing you defeat. You blame God, your circumstances, or other people when it’s your fault that you’re failing. When you’re close enough to God, the Holy Spirit will help you discern what’s wrong. He did it in the early church with the sad case of Ananias and Sapphira and He’ll do it for you,too. Just ask and wait for Him to show you what’s wrong. He will.

A life of dishonor

Living a life of constant failure does terrible things to you. It’s disheartening, it’s depressing, it’s discouraging, it makes you miserable. But worst of all, when you fail the Lord you bring dishonor upon Him. Your failures make Him look bad. Your failures do serious damage to His reputation in the world.

God doesn’t want you to fail and He guarantees your success when you play by His rules and live according to His will. You don’t have to fail.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56 TLB)

Stories of Five Judges, Part One

A Cycle of Failure, 2:6-3:6

Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. (2:18-23)

After an account of the victorious battle in chapter one of Judges, we are given a summary of how Israel fell prey to powerful oppressors. Verses 6-9 almost parallel Joshua 24:28-31. One of the very curious features of Old Testament history is the repetition of history. At times it is almost humorous and predictable, and the reader wonders why these people of God didn’t learn from their predecessors!

Of course, before we mock the ancient Hebrews for being somewhat dense, it would do us well to review our own history. The Great Detective himself made this observation:

The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It’s all been done before, and will be again. (The Valley of Fear)

1. Epitome of an Era, 2:6-10

Just before he died, Joshua led his people in renewing their covenant with the Lord. After that, each one went to take possession of their inheritance. Those events are actually described back in chapter one. Joshua passed away in the flower of his manhood, at the age of 110, and he was laid to rest within the boundaries of his allotment of land in the hill country of Ephraim. His burial plot was in a place called Timnath-heres, which means “portion of the sun.” What a wonderful place to be buried. Even in death God honored his faithful servant.

During the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him, Israel was generally faithful to the Lord. Unfortunately, the great leaders of his generation began to die out, and the new generation seemed uninterested in God. Perhaps it was because they had not personally witnessed the great things He had done for Israel. Perhaps it was because they had been inadequately taught.

We may never know why Israel behaved the way they did, but these handful of verses is a summary of Israel’s history for the division of the Land to the beginning of the period of the Judges (The Pulpit Commentary, Judges).

People cannot thrive on the spiritual power of their parents. Each individual must experience the reality of God for themselves and develop a vital, personal relationship with Him. If that doesn’t happen, a generation may find itself lost in a spiritual morass that leads nowhere.

2. A Wicked and Perverse Generation, 2:11-15

With verse 11, we read an all-too familiar phrase: “…the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” All told, that ominous phrase occurs six times throughout Judges, each time introducing their cycle of failure: sin/slavery/supplication/salvation/silence.

In this first cycle, the Israelites quickly forsook the worship of Jehovah and served “the Baals.” Baal is an interesting word and means “lord, possessor, owner, or husband.” In the text before us, the word appears in the emphatic plural form, and means “the great lord” or “the sovereign owner” (Ridall).

This is an apt name for a false god, who because of its very nature is capable of ensnaring its victim, trapping him in endless and useless religion, ultimately coming dominate, possess, and own him, heart and soul.

In the ancient near east, Baalism was a cult or religion of nature. It’s primary doctrine was that of fertility. The idea was that a supernatural being was responsible for the fertility and productivity of the land and of animals. It’s easy to see how attractive this cult would be to a people who lived in an arid land. Worship of Baal was best described and perverse, and included such things as human sacrifice, including the sacrifice of children and infants, who were often burned alive as a form of burnt offering, their screams of agony considered a form of prayer. How could God’s people do such abominations? Like most sins, the worship of Baal didn’t start out with human sacrifice, one worked up to that level of devotion. Baal worship often began with strange and deviant practices. It is a quirk of human psychology and physiology that our bodies always move toward pleasure and away from pain. When your crops won’t grow and your goats are dying from lack of water, the pleasures of sin can offer a welcome relief. The Bible teaches that there is pleasure in sin, but that pleasure is short lived and never satisfies, and so the hapless sinner must go deeper, always deeper in sin to get more relief from his pain. Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go. Dr. R.G. Lee said these powerful words:

Sin is no disagreeable hindrance to the smooth ongoing of the social machinery. It is not egotistic abnormality. It is not goodness in the making, as though garbage could be fried chicken in the making. It is no upward stumble in man’s progress. Sin is the cancer of the soul; the leprosy of life; the poison of the heart; the madness of the brain; the palsy of the life; the frenzy of the imagination; the pollution of the blood; the blindness of the eyes; the prostitution of the tongue. Sin stole the keys of man’s nobility and threw him, woefully deranged, miserably erratic, and lost into hell. Sin is no light discord, it is a thunder clap of horror. It is no trickling stream, but rather a raging flood of death and destruction. Sin is no pen knife, t is a guillotine separating man from God.

There was a female variant on Baal, and her name was Ashtaroth. She was the goddess of love, fertility and maternity. Worship of this one included all forms of prostitution. So powerful and influential was she, that even the great Solomon fell prey to the alluring charms of this “Queen of Heaven,” as she was called in Jeremiah 7:18. You may not know her as Ashtaroth, but perhaps you have heard of Aphrodite and Venus. She was known by many names, but just like Baal, she never satisfied. How many witless men and women serve Ashtaroth today? Blindly stumbling from one relationship to another, looking for what? People like that are looking for the one thing found only in God.

3. A Sad Pattern of History, 2:16-23

With verse 16 the cycle begins in earnest. God’s people would find themselves in an untenable position, and He would raise up a judge to deliver His people from the oppression into which they fell. The term “judges” more properly means “governor” or even “champion,” the exact meaning is a bit unclear, but the concept is obvious. When the people hit rock bottom, God intervened with a man (or woman) who would have exactly what was needed to save the people. There were some 15 of these “judges” during this time. The Lord spared the people during the reign of a particular judge, even though the people deserved to be enslaved by their oppressors. But after the death of that judge the corruption of the people would resurface, worse than ever.

In fact, when we read verse 19, it indicates that the evil inclinations of the people became progressively worse as the period of the judges continued. The word stubborn as used here is the same word used to describe Israel when Aaron made the golden calf back in Exodus 32. If the Israelites were “stiff necked” in the wilderness, they were even more obstinate in the Promised Land. This new environment did not mean change the people one iota.

In verse 18, we read this remarkable phrase:

[T]he LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.

I say this is remarkable, because here is a people who by there very actions denied the God who is now having compassion on them. Here is a people involved in religious prostitution, forsaking their one true Husband, the Lord, in favor of other gods. But when they suffered under the oppression of these gods, they cried and God had compassion on them. The language of this verse hearkens back to their days in Egyptian bondage. Who can fathom the love of God? The tears of a broken heart can change the way God deals with even the vilest of backsliders.

4. God Test His People, 3:1-6

The first six verses of chapter 3 introduce the reader to the identity and function of the nations left in Canaan to “test” Israel. These nations not only tested the loyalty of people to God, but it also provided them training in the disciplines of war and national defense. This new generation of Hebrew knew nothing of fighting; they had not grown up under Joshua, the great military leader, and they needed to learn how to fight. It wouldn’t be long before, under David, for example, the Hebrews would be facing greater foes than the ones in Canaan. Nations like Egypt and Assyria.

It may seem odd that God would use the Canaanites to both punish and teach Israel. Yet, this was all part of God’s sovereign work. In fact, in Exodus 23 we read the the Canaanite presence in the Land also kept the Israelites from being overrun with wild animals!

Sometimes the things in our lives that appear to be so at variance with God and His work are actually the very tools in His Hands that He uses for our good! It reminds us of Romans 8:28,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Conclusion: Some Lessons

There is a veritable wealth of lessons to be learned from this passage of Scripture. We learn, for example, there can be no salvation without a personal knowledge of God. What our parents or our spouses believe doesn’t affect us at all. We also learn how easy it is forget God when given a choice to follow our passions. It can happen in an instant.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (I Cor. 10:12)

Although people have a tendency to wander from God and backslide, God doesn’t let go easily. He never lets His people slip away comfortably. And God’s word toward those who repent is always forgiveness.


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