When We Fail – Held by the Grip of God

When We Fail

My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote about George W. Norris of Nebraska, who began his career as a country teacher on the plains of Nebraska. He became a small-town lawyer, then a local prosecuting attorney and judge. In 1903, he entered the U.S. House of Representatives and was later elected to the Senate. Norris was a Republican who took up unpopular causes and fought uphill battles. Near the end of his career, Norris told a friend, “It happens very often that one tries to do something and fails. He feels discouraged, and yet he may discover years afterward that the very effort he made was the reason why somebody else took it up and succeeded. I really believe that whatever use I have been to progressive civilization has been accomplished in the things I failed to do rather than in the things I actually did do.”1

Avoid the temptation of judging others when they fail. God often uses our failures to train us for future opportunities.

Sometimes our failures even become stepping stones of success for others.

I would rather go down to my political grave with a clear conscience than ride in the chariot of victory. Senator George W. Norris


Held by the Grip of God

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12

Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?

Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that “the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit” is before all else. Approved Unto God, 11 L


Letting Go of Our Procrastinating Ways

Acts 24:24-27

We like to think that our delay tactics are no big deal. After all, we tell ourselves, no one is really getting hurt by the things we put off. Over time, however, our choices to postpone action can develop into a lifelong pattern of procrastination. In today’s reading, the ruler Felix delayed making a decision about Christ and eventually turned away completely.

To get on track, we must change our attitude about procrastination, admitting it is a serious problem and noticing where we consistently put off action. It’s important to identify any feelings of doubt and discomfort that we may have, confess that procrastination has a hold in our life, and then decide in our heart to turn away from it. Tell God, “I want to live by Your schedule and please You by my obedience.”

Repentance should be joined by a commitment to actively embrace new ways of decisive living. Use God’s Word to fight against feelings of doubt and discomfort whenever they arise. Who we are in Christ and who He is to us are the truths needed to overcome bad habits. The Bible says that we are new creations, indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, and we are no longer slaves to sin (Gal. 5:1). Jesus, our Savior, is also our Lord. He provides all we need through His resurrection power (2 Pet. 1:3), and His grace turns our weakness into strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Victory is ours through Him (Rom. 8:37).

When we order our life on the basis of Scripture, we will live by faith rather than feelings. Jesus offers to set us free from the bondage of procrastination. Don’t put off accepting His invitation!

Abiding Words

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)

In order for the words of the Lord really to abide in us, it seems clear that we should commit as many of them to memory—not only in our minds but in our hearts—as we possibly can. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart,” the psalmist said, “that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

There are many promises of blessing to those who have God’s Word in their hearts. “For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips” (Proverbs 22:18). “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; . . . Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1, 5).

Both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter have noted the importance of Scripture memorization. Paul says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

Peter’s exhortation is as follows: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures], and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour [i.e., the New Testament Scriptures]” (2 Peter 3:1-2). The words “be mindful” mean essentially “recall to mind.”

Since the Scriptures cannot be recalled to mind unless they’ve first been installed in the mind, and since they cannot abide in our hearts unless we first hide them in our hearts, it is surely pleasing and honoring to God that we learn “by heart” as much of His Word as we can. HMM

Surrender to the Irresistible Charm

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. —John 1:1

There is only one Man whom we can trust to follow. That Man is Jesus Christ. Why is He different from any other person? Why do I refuse to follow other people, and yet follow this Man? Of no other person can it be said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (1:14). Of no other person from Adam to now can it be said, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Of no one else can it be said that three days after He had gone into the grave He rose again….

This is the King of glory, this Man; and this Man is the one who says, “Give yourself to Me. Surrender to Me and concentrate upon Me. Be caught in the spell of the irresistible charm.”

Lord, when I really see Jesus as the Scripture describes Him, it isn’t hard for me to follow and surrender to Him. May I become caught up in the irresistible delight of who Christ is. Amen.

The Spiritual Essence Of God

By the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ. (Titus 3:5-6)

We who are the disciples of Jesus Christ often need to be reminded that God is allowing us to live on two planes at the same time.

He lets us live in this religious plane where there are preachers and songleaders and choirs, teachers and evangelists—and that is religion. It is actually “religion in overalls”—it is the external part of religion and it has its own place in God’s work and plan.

But beyond that and superior to all of the externals in our religious experience is the spiritual essence of it all! It is that spiritual essence that I want to see enthroned in our communion and fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ!

We need the caution that much theology, much Bible teaching and many Bible conferences begin and end in themselves. They circle fully around themselves—but when everyone goes home no one is any better than he was before. We sorely need this caution about holding truth that begins and ends in itself. The danger is that we teach and live so that truth is given no opportunity of moral expression!

The branch is not only ever near the stem

The branch is not only ever near the stem, but ever receiving life and fruitfulness from it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning and this we must know before we gain unlimited power at the throne. “Ask what ye will” is for Enochs who walk with God, for Johns who lie in the Lord’s bosom, for those whose union with Christ leads to constant communion.

If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the Lord himself must abide in you, and you in Him.