How Do I Fail Forward? – Joshua 7-8

You don’t always win in life. Joshua and the Israelites were defeated at Ai. Why? Sin. But they learned from their loss. When they defeated Jericho, we saw that the very wall that was the problem became steppingstones. God can make your problems work for you.

Sin Causes Us to Be Overconfident

In Joshua 7:4-5 we read that the Israelites fled from the men of Ai and that they lost heart. Ai was small and they had just won the battle of Jericho. A dangerous time is after a time of victory. It is not the big things but the little things that trip us up. Pride comes before a fall. Victory was followed by failure.

Sin Causes Us to Be Overwhelmed

Joshua did not know what the problem was. “‘Oh, Lord God,’ Joshua said, ‘why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan!’” (Josh. 7:7). Joshua had a bad moment. There is a tendency to blame God when things go wrong. The problem wasn’t that God had forsaken them, but that they had forsaken God. The Lord told Joshua, “Israel has sinned” (Josh. 7:11). You can’t live in victory and live in sin. Bring your sin to Jesus. Confess it. Turn from it and experience the victory.

Sin Causes Us to Be Overthrown

Achan had taken things that didn’t belong to him (Josh. 20-21). One person outside the will of God can do a lot of damage. James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.” Achan stole what belonged to the Lord. The first belongs to God. Jericho was the first city. God is first. He cannot be second. Are you trusting in yourself or are you trusting in God? Achan thought no one would know. Integrity is rooted in our private world, but is revealed in our personal world, professional world, and public world. Sin has a ripple effect. Thirty-six men lost their lives. The nation lost the battle. Achan’s family was killed. Your choices are bigger than you.

Psalm 37:23-24 says, “A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord supports him with his hand.” God told Johsua to get up! No matter the mistake, the worst mistake of all is not to try again. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. What have you learned from your losses? Fail forward and God will give you a…

New Start

“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all the troops with you and go attack Ai. Look, I have handed over to you the king of Ai, his people, city, and land’” (Josh. 8:1). They lost the first time but won the second time. God is the God of another chance.

New Strategy

The Lord told the Israelites, “Treat Ai and its king as you did Jericho and its king, except that you may plunder its spoil and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city” (Josh. 8:2). At Jericho they could not take anything. God’s method today may not be His method yesterday. Someone said, “When you are through changing, you’re through!”

New Success

Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Hold out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the city over to you’” (Josh. 8:18). It reminds us of Moses in Exodus 17 holding his hands up with the help of Aaron and Hur as Joshua fought the battle. Fight life’s battles on your knees! 

Sometimes we will lose. We will often fail in our fight against temptation, but we cannot let that keep us from fighting again tomorrow.  God told Joshua to rise and fight again, and that is the word that He speaks to us. Victory comes from God and is a gift from God, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to fight. It means our fighting is not in vain. Overcome adversity and failure. Press on to fight another day. Don’t let past defeats keep you from future victories. God will give you the strength to fight again, and experience victory through Christ.

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