Bible Reading for: March 27
When you stumble in sin, get up, ask for forgiveness, and never quit in pursuing God.
Have you ever stumbled in your walk as a Christian? Come on now, I’m not the only one, am I? To tell you the truth, I’ve stumbled so badly at times I get a little depressed at the thought of it. I so much want to be the man God created me to be and yet, just when I think I’m on my way, I fall flat on my face. Sinful thoughts and behavior are never “okay”; they are deadly. How one responds to one’s stumbles is, therefore, of critical importance. What should we do when we stumble in sin before a Holy God?
Yesterday we read of Israel’s failed attack on Ai. They don’t seem to have asked for God’s guidance in attacking Ai. Running off without God’s guidance is a mistake most of us make every day. Often, we don’t see any immediate negative consequences from this failure but there are consequences nonetheless. For Israel, the consequences were pretty severe. They lost their battle and were chased from the field. The air of invincibility that had surrounded Israel was shattered, and the other people of Canaan had reason to believe they could defeat Israel. Remember that until this point the peoples of the land were simply melting away, heading for the hills so to speak. Now these different peoples are planning to band together. They intend to stand and fight.
Now if Israel had consulted with God prior to their attack, they would have discovered that they had a sin problem. All of the spoils of Jericho were to be devoted to God, but one fellow named Achan decided he wanted to keep some silver, gold, and a nice cloak for himself. Israel stumbled in two ways; one of their members had done what was wrong in the sight of God, and they rushed off to do their own thing without consulting God. What was the solution to their stumble and defeat? The sin had to be uncovered and dealt with, and they had to return to God for His guidance and blessing.
The really neat thing here, however, is that God used their failure to achieve a victory. The citizens of Ai had routed the Israelites. When the Israelites had turned to flee the field of battle, the citizens of Ai pursued them. God now used the failure of Israel and the over-confidence of Ai to destroy Ai.
Joshua 8:15-19 ESV
“And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire.”
The people of Ai had defeated Israel once. Israel was able to use that defeat to trick Ai. Joshua had set an ambush, and, by running away from the battle, they tricked Ai to leave the relative safety of their city walls to pursue Israel as they had before. Once outside their city walls, the ambush was sprung. A second group of Israelites came from behind, burned the city and then both groups attacked the surrounded people of Ai.
Paul said the following in Romans:
Romans 8:28 ESV
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Notice for whom God works all things together for good. He works this good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Brothers, even your stumbles, your failures, can be used by God for good. If you confess your sin, repent of your sin, and return to God in right relationship, your failures can result in a great victory. When you stumble, get up, dust yourself off, return to God. Never quit!
Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!