Can Failure be Good?

Ecclesiastes 2:11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Is success the most important thing in life? It depends on how you define success. For some achieving their goals is the definition of success. But they achieve their goals at a steep cost. Some through deception and betrayal or by abandoning their principles and sacrificing their integrity. Others by neglecting family and friends and even abandoning God. They may have achieved their goals but ultimately they are failures. Success can be a form of failure.

King Solomon went on a sinful binge, of sorts. He said, “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless, like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). He succeeded at everything he did, and it didn’t satisfy him.

We can do worse than fail. We can put success above our relationship with God. We can succeed and worship our accomplishments rather than the One who helped us reach them.

There are times when failure is good because we can learn from our mistakes. And one great lesson is to learn to fail forward. That means after we have done something wrong and have tasted the bitter results of it, we say, “I really don’t want to do that again.” So we put safeguards around our lives, taking precautionary steps so we don’t fall into the same trap. If that is the case, then we have learned something from our failures.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Pauper or Prince

Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was ruler over the kingdom of the Chaldeans

In the book Daniel we meet a number of powerful men. People like Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius and Alexander the Great. We see God working His sovereign plan through the lives of these men.

But we should never think that God sees them simply as pawns on His chess board, They were men that God cared about and each one of them was given a chance to acknowledge and submit their life to the one true living God. God did not see them as tools but as men in need of a Savior.

Nebuchadnezzar encounters God, late in his life, and it seems from scripture that he turned his heart to God. Darius saw God’s power when He delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and very likely turned his life to the Lord as well. Based on secular history it seems that both Cyrus and Alexander had their own personal encounters with God.

Throughout the bible we see God revealing Himself to ‘monarchs’ and ‘madams’. God is no respecter of persons. He cares not if a person is a pauper or a prince. He calls each person, no matter their status, to acknowledge Him as God and submit their life to Him.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Good News, Bad News

Galatians 1:6–7 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

We have all heard a few too many ‘good news/bad news’ jokes. But did you know there is good news and bad news in the gospel?

The literal definition of gospel is good news. But the gospel message loses its punch if you don’t know the bad news. When you tell people the good news you should also make them aware of the bad news. That means telling people they are sinners. Of course, people don’t like to hear that. I’m a what? Hey, wait, I’m a good person! I’m not a sinner!

Well, the bible disagrees. Scripture says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet there are some today who don’t want to tell people they are sinners. They say most people are OK. Many people believe everything is fine as long as they try to live a good life.

We have to break the bad news: “I’m sorry to tell you this, friend, but you’re a sinner. You’ve broken God’s commands. You’ve fallen short of His standards and there is nothing you can do to make it right. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you, and if you will turn from your sin and put your faith in Christ, you can be forgiven.”

The bad news helps us fully appreciate the good news. Anything less than this is a false gospel that will give false assurance. That is why Paul wrote, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God. . . . You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).

We must be careful to preach the real gospel.

 

David Ball
Pastor

An Excellent Spirit

Daniel 6:3 Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm.

In chapter 6 Daniel is close to 90 years old. As a teenager he purposed in his heart to follow God and for all his life he did. He was taken from his family when he was about 15. It is even possible that his family was killed in front of him before he was taken to Babylon. Josephus tells us that he was a eunuch. Isaiah might confirm that. Isaiah 39:7

Daniel had everything taken from him as a teenager. But he was determined not to lose his God. He may have thought, I’ve lost everything else, I’m not going to lose my God’. This was the one thing they could not take from him.

His decisions as a teen set the course for his entire life. In chapter 6 over 70 years have passed since he was taken from Jerusalem. He has witnessed the fulfillment of the prophesies he was given as a young man. Nebuchadnezzar is dead and the Persians are now in charge. He has seen God’s word fulfilled and he knows he can trust Him.

I say all this because you and I will be faced with decisions today that will set the course for the rest of our life. However much time we have, we will make decisions today that will affect our life 5, 10, 20, 40 years from now. Daniel made the right decisions because he had an ‘excellent spirit’. How do we become men like Daniel; men with an excellent spirit?

The bible says we are made up of body, soul, and spirit. If we will allow ourselves to be driven by God’s Spirit we will have an ‘excellent spirit’ as well. Many people today are driven by the flesh. They want power, pleasure and prestige. Others are driven by the soul. Their feelings are the most important thing. What drives you? We should strive to be more like Daniel, men of an ‘excellent spirit’.

Be a man who is driven by God’s Spirit.

 

David Ball
Pastor

A Walk of Faith

Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

The Bible says we should be ‘filled with the Spirit’. Have you ever wondered what that actually means?

Some people think that being filled with the Spirit is an emotional experience, and it can include that. But it doesn’t always mean that. You can be filled with the Spirit and not have any emotional response. Then again, you can be filled with the Spirit and feel a lot of emotion.

In the church today we see too many bizarre and even aberrant things happening that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. People say, “the Spirit is leading me to do this or that”. The problem is we are easily misled and Satan is a master deceiver. And so God designed scripture to be our safety net.

Scripture, among many other things, tells us what is proper for our faith and practice. Do we find the justification for our spiritual practice, in the Bible? If the answer is ‘no’, then the things we are doing are most likely not from the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord and serch scripture.

So what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? We could compare it to driving a car. We read in Acts 2 about the day of Pentecost, the story of the ‘explosion’ of the Holy Spirit that set the church in motion. In the same way, when you get into your car and start the ignition, there is an explosion, if you will, that gets the motor working. You don’t need to keep turning your car on again and again once you’re driving. You just need that initial explosion, and then you drive the car.

It is great when you have an emotional experience. But we must remember that the Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), not be emotions. By and large, the Christian life is a walk of faith, not a walk of feeling. Feelings will come and go. But the just shall live by faith.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Prayer

 

Daniel 4:5 I had a dream and it frightened me; while in my bed, the images and visions in my mind alarmed me.

Nebuchadnezzar was in the ‘golden years’ of his life. He had conquered all his enemies. The empire was secure and he was at ease and flourishing in his palace. But he had a dream and the dream terrified him greatly.

Do you know someone you think is beyond salvation. You may have a friend who you think will never get saved. Someone who has some redeeming qualities but who can also go off the rails at times. When they get mad they say things like, ‘I’m going to cut you up and make your house a dung hill’. They’re grumpy at times and sequester themselves in their ’palace’.

If God puts a burden on your heart for a co-worker, a friend or a relative, keep praying for them because you have no idea what God might be doing when they lay their head down at night. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on earth. But God knew how to reach him. God can get to anyone.

I think one of the greatest sins in the western church today is our underestimation of the effectiveness of prayer. I think we have so much to learn about prayer. And the best way to learn is to pray. We don’t need to read books or listen to tapes on prayer; pray! That is the best way to experience the power of prayer.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Loving the Dark

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The reason the Pharisees rejected Jesus wasn’t because they disagreed with Him. They rejected Him because they chose to disbelieve Him.
Doubt is a matter of the mind. Even Christians have times when they doubt. We don’t always understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. But unbelief is a matter of the will. It is a choice we make.

The Pharisees chose not to believe. They did not reject Jesus for a lack of evidence. Jesus was the perfect example. Even Pontius Pilate said, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4). Judas Iscariot, who spent three years with Jesus said, “I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). So Jesus clearly was a model of everything that He said.

The Pharisees rejected Jesus because it interfered with the way they wanted to live. And that is why people reject Him today. Jesus said, “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19–20).

People don’t reject Jesus because they have examined the evidence and remain unconvinced. They don’t reject Him because they have found contradictions in the Scripture. They don’t reject Him because of hypocrisy in the church. They reject Him because He interferes with the way they want to live.

 

David Ball
Pastor

The Invisible World

Daniel 10:13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.

Rarely do we consider that when we pray, we enter into spiritual warfare. In Daniel 10 the prophet has been fasting and praying for 21 days. Verse 10 says, Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.

Then the angel says, “When you offered your prayer, it was heard in Heaven.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered as quickly as we would like because behind the scenes in the supernatural world there is a battle taking place. Daniel was praying on earth, and God heard him in Heaven and dispatched an angel with the answer. But somewhere between Heaven and earth, between the visible and the invisible, the angel was accosted by an evil spirit, and a battle ensued. After twenty-one days, God dispatched a higher-ranking angel to help the first angel.

From this account, we see that actions in the supernatural realm can hinder our prayers from being answered. This is especially important to remember when we are praying for the salvation of those who don’t know the Lord. A battle is taking place, and the devil is at work, wanting to keep them from hearing the gospel and from coming to faith.

When you pray and don’t see your prayer answered, it simply means that you should keep praying. The answer might come twenty-one days later or twenty-one years later. But we should not stop praying because God hears our prayers.

 

David Ball
Pastor

God is with You

Daniel 1:7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

Nebuchadnezzar could change their names, but he couldn’t change their hearts. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were determined to serve their God no matter the circumstance life put before them.
The king had made the call for some of Israel’s finest young men. He wanted the best and the brightest. He wanted to indoctrinate and brainwash them in the ways of Babylon. And he wanted them to abandon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and worship the gods and the ways of Babylon.

Ancient Babylon was a wonder to behold, filled with astonishing opulence. Yet there was no reverence for the One true God. Everyone cowered in fear in the presence of King Nebuchadnezzar.

It is believed by many bible scholars that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were between the ages of 14 and 17. They were good Jewish boys who had been raised by their parents in the way of the Lord. But the world, as they knew it, changed when they were torn from their families. They were placed in an alien culture of paganism and luxury like they had never known. They suddenly found themselves in the palace of the most powerful man on earth.

Has your world changed recently? Were you going one way only to find yourself headed in a new direction. Maybe you got a new job, and it is an entirely new world for you. The people at the new location are not supportive of your Christian values. Maybe your orders were changed and you are headed to a different city altogether.

Here is what you need to know: Wherever you go, God goes with you. He doesn’t live in one place; He is with you no matter where you go. And He has not forgotten about you. He has a plan for you.

 

David Ball
Pastor

You are Useful to God

1 Corinthians 1:26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.

What are the qualities God looks for in the man? What kind of people does He want? Is He looking for a towering intellect? Is He looking for born leaders? Or, does the Spirit of God look for different qualities when He is searching for a man that He can use?

One thing is clear in the Scriptures: it seems like God intentionally goes out of His way to find individuals who don’t necessarily look like they will amount to much. He chooses people who, at first glance, do not appear to have what it takes.

When God was looking for a man to lead the nation of Israel, He selected a shepherd boy named David, who was watching a flock of sheep. When God wanted to have someone lead an army to defeat the Midianites, God picked a guy named Gideon who was hiding out in an abandoned cistern.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. . . . As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God”
God is not looking for ability as much as He is looking for availability. Are you a person who will say, “Lord, I don’t have much to offer, but what I have, Lord, I offer to you”? If that is you, then sit back and watch what God will do.

 

David Ball
Pastor