My flesh may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. - Psalm 73:26 NLT
Success can be defined as the positive outcome of an endeavor. We tend to uplift and honor successful men and women because we value what we perceive to be someone’s hard work and ingenuity paying off. What we do not honor is failure – failure is frowned upon, ridiculed and mocked. You will never discover your full potential or purpose if you are afraid of failing because failure is the foundation on which success is built.
In what areas of your life have you failed? Have you failed as a husband or wife? Have you failed as a son or daughter? Have you failed at school? Have you failed on a business venture, at your job or in your finances? Failure is not defined as a lack of success; it is never trying again that signifies failure.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” - Matthew 14:25-30 NIV
“Lord, save me!” Those are the words of a drowning person. There isn’t a worse feeling than drowning, than feeling helpless and abandoned. When we first begin to drown, we fight for our survival, doing all we can to stay afloat, but fighting makes us tired. In our tiredness, we stop fighting and give up, and when we give up, we go under. So, the business drowns, the marriage drowns, the recovery drowns, and our faith drowns.
What are you going to do when what you were hoping and depending on drowns? Are you going to quit or are you going to trust God? Are you going to say, “nothing good ever happens to me” or are you going to declare that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4;13)? Are you going to stay in your failure or are you going to believe that though you may fall, you are not cast down: for the Lord upholds you with His hand (Psalm 37:24)?
Do It Again
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. - John 2:4-7 NIV
Where some people see failure, God sees faith. Peter got out of the boat twice. The first time he walked on water and began to drown when he took his eyes off Jesus. Would you say Peter failed because he drowned, or would you say he had faith because he got out of the boat and walked on water? There is faith in every failure, learn from what did not work so that you can grow in stature, wisdom and favor with God. The second time Peter got out of the boat, he did not worry about drowning and did not even wait for confirmation that it was Jesus who was instructing them because he had previously learned that Jesus would not let him drown. So, do it again. Learning from what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead (Philippians 3:13).
When Jesus instructed His disciples to do it again. They did not protest or question His direction, they just did it again and found success where there was previously failure. God is instructing you to do it again. To try again. Hope again. Believe again. Because He has a blessing waiting on you if you do not give up.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. - Isaiah 50:7 NLT
I recently received a message from someone saying that I deserved everything that has happened to me. Now, my first inclination was to “clap back” at this person but remember, cynical voices are to be ignored and not elevated. Be mindful of the voices you are elevating in your life. You do not have to respond to every critique and criticism because some people are so miserable that all they have to make themselves feel happy is trying to make others feel unhappy.
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their [foolish] and personal opinions. - Romans 14:1 GNT
The devil wants to shame you into submission. He wants you to think that God has condemned you. He wants you to think that what others say about you matters. He wants to separate you from those who love and care about you. He wants you alone and isolated so he can talk to you - tempting and encouraging you to covet what others have and live a life of jealousy, greed, shame and hopelessness.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” - Genesis 3:1 NIV
The Garden of Eden was a middle ground between Heaven and Earth. It was a place where God and man could fellowship with one another. When Eve felt as if she was alone in the garden, the enemy came to talk to and deceive her. In Eden, she and Adam had all they would ever need but the enemy convinced them to want more. In their pursuit for more, both her and Adam lost what they had.
What is the enemy convincing you to want more of? He wants you to be unsatisfied with what you have and exchange it for what he offers. He wants you to exchange your faith for fear, your family for a fling, your hope for doubt, your savings for debt and your confidence for shame. You already have everything you need to live a blessed and purpose filled life. If you did not, the enemy would not be talking to you - because who trades for something they already have? Ignore the desires to obtain more of this world and thank God for what He has already given you.
Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. - Matthew 4:1 GNT
When we find ourselves outside of Eden (fellowship with God), in a desolate place, the enemy comes to tempt us, to exploit our shame and he often uses people to accomplish this goal. He uses gossip, nasty text messages and social media comments to make us doubt ourselves and God’s love for us. He shows us how other people are pretending to live so that we will chase a mirage instead of the truth.
When Jesus found Himself in a desert place, the Devil tried to tempt Him with many lies, but He countered those temptations with God’s word. So, when you find yourself in a lonely and uncertain place, wanting to quit on yourself and God - rely on His word. Remember, the temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13). If God led you to it, He would surely lead, love and provide for you through it.
When the Lord saw Moses coming near the bush, he called him by name, and Moses answered, “Here I am.” - Exodus 3:4 CEV
Moses was a fugitive and if you had killed someone, you would consider fleeing too. By all means, he should have been disqualified from spreading the gospel and leading God’s people after killing a man. He even doubted himself, saying he was a “nobody”. Maybe, you feel like a nobody. Maybe you lost your Eden and fell to temptation. Maybe you started believing what the enemy has been telling you - that your best days are behind you and that God can’t use you.
Be repentant, but don’t be shame. Don’t be shame about your past and don’t let a mistake stop you from hearing God’s call. He called you, not because you deserved it, but because of His own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9). It’s not who talks to you that matters, it’s who you listen to. Don’t listen to those who do the enemy’s bidding. Your worth was predetermined by God and He never made a worthless thing. So, when He calls your name, like Moses, respond “Here I am”. Even if you are uncertain about where He is taking you and what He is calling you to do, respond, “Here I am.”
Keep your eyes on the LORD! You will shine like the sun and never be ashamed.
- Psalm 34:5 CEV
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