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The book of Proverbs has a tremendous amount to say about failure. These are just a few. If we would pay attention to these we would avoid these common forms of failures in our lives as Christians.

1. BECAUSE WE DON’T PLAN AHEAD
We don’t think ahead. Like the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Proverbs 21:12 “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. A simpleton never looks and suffers the consequences.” Proverbs 19:2 “It’s not good to have zeal
without knowledge nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 23:23 (Living Bible) “Get the facts at any price and hold on tightly to all the good sense you can get.” All three of these verses are saying the same thing. You’ve got to plan. You’ve got to plan your life. The Bible says that you can only live for today but you have to plan tomorrow. You can’t live tomorrow and you can’t live in the past. You can only live in the present. That’s why we believe you must live one day at a time. But living one day at a time in no way contradicts planning out the rest of your life. You ought to plan your future because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. If you don’t plan your future, I guarantee you, somebody else is going to do it for you. You have to decide what’s important, decide your priorities. It’s a characteristic of leadership. It’s a characteristic of ministry and remember the moment you become a Christian you are part of the ministry.

2. WE GIVE UP TOO SOON.
When a failure comes a long we think, “It didn’t work.”No, if at first you don’t succeed, welcome to the human race. If first you don’t succeed you’re normal. You must have failures. One of the things a successful man told me over and over is that you succeed by not giving up. Successful people are just ordinary people with incredible amount of determination. They don’t know how to quit. They just keep on keeping on. The real truth, when you’re around successful people you discover real quickly that success is built on failure. Success is never built on success; it’s built on failure. You find out what doesn’t work and then you do what works. Edison said he tried over 200 different elements before he discovered the tungsten element for the light bulb. When he got to 199 I’m sure he must have thought, “I’m a failure,” but his attitude was “I haven’t failed 199 times. I just know 199 things that don’t work.” That’s an education. You keep on keeping on.

Facts about Lincoln: His mother died when he was a baby. He had little opportunity to finish school. He ran for a seat in the state legislature and lost. He started a business and went bankrupt. He fell in love with a girl and she died. He later married another girl and was unhappy in his marriage the rest of his life. He served a term in congress but was defeated for re-election. He ran for six other offices including senate and vice president and was defeated every time. But then he became our sixteenth President. After all that. His entire life was defeat until he was elected President.

Proverbs 13:4 says “Lazy people want much but get little while the diligent are prospering.” Circle the word “diligent”. Proverbs 15:19 says, “A lazy fellow has trouble through life.” We fail because we give up too soon in the ministry. We think, “It’s not working!” You just have to
keep working it! So just ask yourself if people of the world are determined, what about we who have the Holy Spirit and the strength of God. We should be doing more.

3. WE DON’T LISTEN TO GOD.
When we’re not seeking God’s guidance in the matter. Instead of finding out what God wants us to do and doing it, what we do is make our plans and then say, “God, bless my plans.” Never do that! Stop saying, “God, bless what I’m doing.” And start saying, “God, help me to do what You’re blessing.” That’s the key to success. “God, You’re out there doing some great things in the world today. Let me get in on some of them. Let me catch a wave. I want to be in on what You’re doing. Help me to do what You’re blessing.” Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right unto a man but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Our natural inclinations get us into a lot of trouble. When you have a natural inclination to do something it’s almost always the wrong thing. Almost always the wrong thing! “There is a way that seems right but it ends in death.” So trying to play God, taking matters into your own hands surely will fail. A little prayer can help can help you avoid a lot of failure due to wrong decisions.

4. WE ARE AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS
We’re unwilling to trust God when He tells us to do something. That’s a lack of faith. The Bible says, “The fear of man is a dangerous trap but to trust in God means safety.” Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will bring it to pass.” If you want a key to success, that’s it right there. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will bring it to pass.” You say, “God, what You’ve all called me to do I’m now going to take a risk to do.” God will bail you out. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat if Christ is your captain. If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. If you want to see God really at work in your life, you’ve got to do some things that you can’t do in your own power. Most of the time, most of our lives and most of our ministry can be explained away by simple human effort. You’ve never really believed God until you’ve attempted something that cannot be done in the power of the flesh in which you say, “I’m absolutely bound to fail unless God bails me out of this.”

5. WHEN WE THINK WE’VE ARRIVED.
You never arrive. You’ll always be growing. You’ll always be learning. You’ll always be walking before the Lord saying, “God, I need to depend on You,” and it is integrity and it is humility that God honors. When we think we’ve arrived, the Bible says, “Pride leads to
destruction and arrogance to downfall.” “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” One of the reasons God hates pride so much is because you’re un-teachable. If you can’t learn from other people, you’ve got an ego problem. You can learn from anybody if you just know the right questions. So the Bible says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like a deep well but the man of understanding will draw it out.” You just need to learn to ask the right questions. You can learn from people older than you and you can learn from people younger than you, people who are different from you, people who you don’t even agree with. You can learn from them if you just know the right questions. The wise person learns to ask questions. The wise person learns to draw it out. If you think, “I know it all!” you’re headed for failure. Keep your mind open. Nothing succeeds like success. You never know it all. You never learn it all. All leaders are learners.

6. WE SET OURSELVES UP FOR IT.
We actually set ourselves up for failure. Job 3:25 says “What I always feared has happened to me.” That sounds crazy but it’s true. Sometimes we intentionally plan to fail. Have you ever seen anybody who was a chronic looser? No matter what they did, they bombed out at it. After studying the Bible and studying human nature for a long period of time, I’ve come to realize that many people fail because deeply inside, consciously or unconsciously, they want to fail. They want to fail. If you are that type of person, you have to remove those emotional roadblocks for you to be effective in ministry.

Learn to avoid these common mistakes and you would be soaring like an Eagle. I pray the Holy Spirit will begin to reveal more and more to you. You were born to win. Stay blessed

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The mind is like a electrical switch that can be set on various channels and which receives power from Heaven or from Hell. When the mind is set on the Spirit we receive power from Heaven. When the mind is set on the flesh we are ruled by devilish impulses and dark wisdom.

James 3:13-18 ISV Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good life that his works are done in humility born of wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter jealousy and rivalry in your hearts, stop boasting and lying against the truth. (15) That kind of wisdom does not come from above. No, it is worldly, self-centered, and demonic. (16) For wherever jealousy and rivalry exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. (17) However, the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield, full of compassion and good fruits, and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. (18) And a harvest of righteousness is grown from the seed of peace planted by peacemakers.

If we set our minds on the flesh we will reap death, darkness and chaos. On the other hand if we set our mind on the Spirit we will reap wisdom, life and peace. The choice is yours and you must make it anew each day.

Philippians 4:8 ISV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy-keep thinking about these things.

Colossians 3:1-4 ISV Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep focusing on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Keep your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ your life is revealed, then you, too, will be revealed with him in glory. In order to do this I recommend that you have a daily time of prayer and bible reading and that you participate in as many godly activities as possible and abstain from all carnal and worldly activities and that you flee from that which wars against the soul (pornography, certain violent or trashy TV programs, gossip magazines, etc).

Paul drives the point home in verse 7 by telling us that the flesh is powerless. It cannot fulfill God’s requirements because it lacks the correct nature. A warthog wallows in the mud because that is its nature. It is not going to lick itself clean like a cat does because it does not have the nature of a cat. The flesh has the fallen nature. It is natural for the flesh to sin. That is what it does. It refuses to submit to God’s law. It always wants its own way and its own desires. Verse 8 goes on to say that those who are ‘in the flesh’ – that is those who are under the control of the flesh, cannot please God. It is as simple and as black and white as that. You cannot educate the flesh into compliance with God’s righteousness. The flesh will always desire sin and even when the flesh takes a religious turn it will be powerless to do any good (2 Timothy 3:5).

In complete contrast Verse 9 says that all true born-again Christians are ‘in the Spirit’, and are not in the flesh. We have the Spirit as part of the promises of the New Covenant. He is the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14) and verse 9 tells us that God’s Spirit lives in us and is the Spirit of Christ. Indeed we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 9:16) and Christ
dwells in us (Romans 8:10). Now, in a sort of paradox, even though we are in the Spirit we still need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit! In the last part of verse 9, Paul turns this into a
test of true Christian faith. If a person cannot set their mind on spiritual things, if there is nothing of the Holy Ghost about them, then they are carnal and not of Christ. Lastly verse 10 informs us that Christ dwells in the believer and that this divine indwelling is a powerful life-giving Presence. Even though our bodies are dead because of sin, and even though our flesh nature leads to death for the body; yet our new nature is alive because of the imparted, imputed and indwelling righteousness of Christ.

Paul pulls no punches. You have two choices and only two choices. Either you set your mind on the flesh and destroy yourself, or you set your mind on the Spirit and reap life and peace. You cannot play it both ways. Defeated Christians keep setting their minds on the garbage in their lives instead of on God. You cannot keep anything fleshly or carnal in your life. You cannot keep visiting that dubious website or holding onto that grudge or flirting with married people or loving money or being stingy and hard-hearted. You cannot be carnal, competitive, ruthless and selfishly ambitious. Those days are over if you are in Christ.

Every Christian has to make a conscious decision about their mental habits and their lifestyle. Will they focus on faith or upon doubt? On God or on self? On lusts or upon God’s promises? We have to pray in the Spirit and fight the good fight of faith. This is not easy but it is worth it. One tip – do not fight your evil thoughts. Simply dismiss them and refocus on God – and let the Holy Spirit take care of them. For instance if your mind is filled with lust make the decision to find something else to think about. Go put on some Christian music and start worshiping. Once you start worshiping the evil thoughts will subside.

© Copyright, John Edmiston / Eternity Christian Fellowship 2009

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