Using Your Failures!

2 Samuel 11:27; 2 Samuel 12

In the Bible we learn about some of the great men of Biblical days.
We learn that Abraham was called " a friend of God."
We remember that Jacob wrestled all night long with the angel of the Lord,
and on that night his name was changed to Israel.
Many would say that Moses as the greatest leader of the Old Testament who spoke with God directly.
David was called a man after Gods own heart.

All these men were used greatly by God.
We also know that there were times in their lives when they failed God.
Abraham lied.
Jacob was deceitful.
Moses disobeyed God.
David committed adultery.
All these great men of God failed God!

Failure is a dirty word to us.
Even the thought of failure is disturbing to us.
If it occurs in our lives, we would wish that we could hide from it or run from it or deny it.
We do not like to be considered a failure.

Even the great men in history experienced failure in their lives.
When Enrico Caruso, the great Italian tenor, took his first voice lesson, the instructor told him
that his voice sounded like wind whistling through a window.

Henry Ford forgot to put a reverse gear in the first car he invented.
And he also forgot to build a door wide enough to get the car out of the building.
I have visited Greenfield Village in Detroit, Michigan, and you can see where he cut a hole in the wall
to get the car out.

Thomas Edison was one of the greatest inventors.
He spent two million dollars on one invention and never developed the invention that he wanted.
Edison got many of his inventions from other less dedicated inventors who had tried and quit.
He worked on their ideas until he perfected them.
Edison invented a battery that was used in submarines for many years.
He would correct thousands of failures of that battery before he finally perfected it.

Abraham Lincoln lived a life filled with failure.
In 1831 Lincoln failed in business.
In 1832 he was defeated in the election for the Illinois State Legislature.
In 1833 he again failed in business.
In 1834 he was elected to the legislature, but in 1935 his fiance died.
In 1838 he was defeated for speaker of the house.
In 1840 he was defeated for elector.
In 1842 Lincoln married, but his wife proved to be a sickly and mentally depressed woman.
In 1843 Lincoln was defeated for Congress.
In 1846 he was elected to Congress, but lost when he ran again for Congress in 1848.
In 1855 he was defeated for the senate.
In 1856 he was defeated for vice-president.
In 1858 he was defeated again for the senate.
Finally, in 1860 he was elected president.

Most of his life was filled with failure.
Yet, he is recognized as one of the greatest President who ever lived.
Lincoln's life is an example that it is not what happens to us, but it is what happens in us
that makes us either a success or a failure.
This applies to each one of us as Christians.

If you question whether are not that God use your failures, then look at David.
When I speak of failures in this message I'm not referring to the failure of purchasing the wrong car
or the failure of not putting enough salt in the soup.
I am talking about the failure to obey God's laws and to live a righteous life for God.

That was David's problem.
We remember that Saul was king before David.
Both men were similar.
Both were warrior kings.
Both were anointed by God.
Both were chosen by God to perform great deeds.
Both sinned.
Both were reproached for their sin.
Saul died in disgrace, and David died with the glory of God upon his life.

So as Christians, it is not what happens to us, but what happens in us, that will determine
whether or not we are failures.

We read in 2 Samuel 12 that David's men were in battle, yet David was back in Jerusalem.
One day David looked across the courtyard and saw a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and he lusted for her.
Bathsheba was married to a soldier named Uriah.
David summoned her to the palace and seduced her.
Later, Nathan, the prophet came to David and confronted him about his sin of adultery.

There are several events in David's life that enables us to understand what we should do
if we fail or sin against God as he did.

First, we must expect to be confronted with our sin.

Remember what happened in David's life after he failed.
The Bible said in 2 Samuel 12: " Then the Lord sent Nathan to David."
God sent the prophet to David.

2 Samuel 11:27: " But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord."
So, when David sinned and failed God, it was then that God sent Nathan to David.
God will not allow us to sin without sending someone or something to remind us of our sin.

We cannot continually sin and not expect God to send someone or bring some situation
or circumstances into our lives to point out that we are going down the wrong road.
God is merciful and kind and caring toward us.

So God sent Nathan to the palace to confront David with his sin.
Nathan told David the story of a poor man who had only one lamb and a rich man who had
a large flock, but took the poor man's lamb and sacrificed it to provide a a meal for his friends.

After Nathan told David this story, David's anger boiled over against the rich man.
David said to Nathan, " As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die."
David could see the sin of this rich man more than he could see his own sin.
When Nathan was referring to other people, David was saying, " That is terrible."

This is also true with us.
We are more critical of the failures of others than we are of ours.
David was ready to kill the rich man for taking the lamb.
But then, Nathan said to David, " You are the man."
" Thus says the Lord God of Israel, it is I who anointed you king over Israel and I who delivered
you from the hand of Saul
."

Then, Nathan revealed that David had arranged for Uriah to be murdered.
Then Nathan proclaimed, " Thus says the Lord, 'Behold I will raise up evil against you from your own household.'"
From that a moment on, David had many horrible problems in his home with his sons and with his wives.
He experienced constant insurrection because of his sin.

We must get the point that God is making.
The point is that when we fail God, God is faithful to us by bringing people or situations into our lives
to confront us and remind us that we are sinning and failing God.
Listen closely!
It is impossible for a Christian to continue to sin against God and not know that he or she is sinning.

Then, we must confess that we have done wrong.

David confessed to Nathan and to God that he had done wrong.
" Then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord."
Nathan said to David, " The Lord has taken away your sin; you shall not die."

Usually, when we sin against God, we try to hide it or rationalize it or blame someone else for it.
But David admitted that he had done wrong.
So, when God reveals to us our failure and we deny it or excuse it -- then that is our greater failure.
David agreed with Nathan.

David also committed the sin in the taking of a census.
David had become a victorious king over many enemies.
He was so puffed up with pride that he took a census to see how many people he was ruling.

1 Chronicles 21: 1: " Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel."
Isn't that an interesting phrase?
After David had defeated his worldly enemies, he was now confronted by Satan.
Now he had to battle with Satan.

Many times when we become successful in our Christian life, and began to experience
some wonderful victories, it is then that Satan comes and challenges us.
That is when we begin to fight not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers.

Then, we must accept responsibility for our failures.

David took responsibility for his sin.
He didn't blame Bathsheba.
He could have said, " It's really her fault, she was indecently exposed, and I couldn't help myself.
It just happen
."
How many times have we heard that kind of statement where someone has blamed others for their sin.
David took responsibility for his sin.

God will not do His work in our lives with our failures and sins until we quit blaming our mother, father,
sisters, brothers, wives, or husband or….
We must say, " It's me - it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer."
" It's me, and I confess my sin and pray for forgiveness."

We must also trust in God's mercy.

David knew that he had disappointed God -- both as a man and as a king.
Yet, David fasted and prayed, knowing that God was forgiving and merciful.
He arose from his three days of repenting, justified and forgiven.

We must be sincere toward God.

David was sincere toward God.
The Bible says that he fasted.
He laid on the ground all night.
The Elders of his household stood beside him through the night trying to raise him up
from the ground, but he was unwilling to get up and would not even eat food with them.
He was showing sincere repentance.
He was sorry for what he had done.
And he demonstrated that by fasting and prayer.
It hurt him that he had hurt God.

Does it hurt you when you know that you have hurt someone, and even more that
-- does it hurt when you know that you have hurt God?

Then, we must renew our fellowship with God.

It is not enough just to feel bad for what we have done.
There must be a renewal and resumption of fellowship.
The Bible says that after his repentance, David arose from the ground and washed
and anointed himself and came to the house of the Lord and worshipped the Lord.

Many when they fail God have a tendency to leave the church and their Christian friends
and their Christian influence and avoid everyone.
When David sinned against God he went back and prayed to renew his fellowship with the Lord.

We must also change our attitudes.

A great change took place in David's life after his failure.
This change began with a change of attitude.
We read that David arose from the ground, he washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and he ate.
His servant said, " What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive,
you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food
."

David was demonstrating the fact that he could not look back.
What had happened had happened, and now he needed a change of attitude, a change of clothes,
and to wash himself outwardly, and wash himself inwardly.

David needed to have a complete change of mind.
David was showing that he was sorry for what he had done, and he showed repentance.
Now he began to change his attitudes.
He knew that God had forgiven him.
Now he was ready to go back to the job that God originally assigned to him.

Now David looks to the future.
After the death of their illegitimate child, David comforted his wife.
Then he put his grief for the child behind him: "
Now he has died; why should I fast?
Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me
."

David sinned with Bathsheba and married her and out of that wrong relationship of which David repented,
and they had a son named Solomon.
The Bible says that God loved Solomon, and he became the next king of Israel.

David also sinned in ordering the census.
After committing that sin, he went to a farmer who had a piece of ground.
David wanted to offer a sacrifice to God for his failure on that piece of ground.
The farmer was willing to give it to King David.
But David said, " No, I want offer to God anything that is free.
I will only offer to God that which I have paid for.
I am not going to come to God with a free sacrifice.
I'll pay my par
t."
And he bought the ground.

So, we see how God took David's sin of which he repented, and David and Bathsheba had a son
named Solomon whom God loved.
And he became the next king of Israel.
The piece of ground that David bought after he committed his sin of taking the census was the ground
upon which Solomon built the Temple.

God took the two greatest failures in David's life and turned them into a blessing.
God can also do the same for you and me.
He can take the biggest sins and mistakes that we have made and use them for His glory.
We learn that our attitudes and not our sin is the determining factor of whether our mistakes
will make us better or break us.
To accept failure as something that is final is to finally fail.

So, when we fail God, it is best that we return to him as fast as we can.
When we repent of our sins and confess them to God, we learn that we are in the arms
of a loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate, and forgiving God.
God loves you!
God is an expert in dealing with failure.
He dealt with the failures and sins of Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul and others,
and he will help you through yours.

Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L White