“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land.” Joshua 8:1
Someone reading this article—it may be you—has failed the Lord, and you think perhaps God is finished with you.
In Joshua 8:1 we read that, coming off the incredible victory over Jericho, God’s people Israel met a stunning defeat against the small city of Ai, because there was sin in the camp. The sin was discovered and dealt with, but Joshua was dejected—even though he had not been personally responsible.
God said to Joshua in this passage, “I'm giving you another chance. I'm giving you another day.” I want to tell you, God is no more finished with you than God was finished with the children of Israel just because they sinned. God wants to give you another chance.
God is the God of the second chance. God is the God of grace. He is a God of forgiveness, of beginning again. Failures are neither fatal nor final as long as there's a God in heaven.
But you may be saying today, as David confessed to Nathan the prophet, “I am the man!” You may have failed and you acknowledge your failure.
Some people, because they have failed, just simply quit. They go around moaning, groaning saying, “What a fool I was.” Change that! It is not “over” for you. Say “What a fool I am to keep saying what a fool I was.” Listen, friend, the Bible says we are to “forget those things which are behind.”
What are some of the things that are behind? Both past guilt and past glory!
Past Glory Needs To Be Left Behind
If you camp out in “Past Gloryland,” you’ll find the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night (God’s presence with His people) has moved on and now you are left behind!
Past Guilt Needs To Be Left Behind
In our Joshua passage, early in Israel’s history as a nation, the guilt was the greed and theft committed by Achan. Forget your success at Jericho and your failure at Ai. Confess your failure to God, leave it at the Cross—and press on. There's a land out there to be conquered, and the same God who wants to give you a second chance will give you a second chance.
God is the Giver of Second Chances
He gave Samson another chance, didn't He? Remember how Samson got his hair cut in the devil's barber shop? He lost his power and utterly failed to be the judge in Israel he had been chosen to be. Yet Samson said, “Oh God, hear me one more time!” And he was more victorious in his death than he was in his life.
God gave Jacob a second chance. Remember that Jacob went to Bethel and there he met the Lord. He saw a ladder descending out of heaven. He made vows to God. Then later on he got away from God. But the Bible says he went back to Bethel. God gave him a second chance.
God gave John Mark a second chance. The apostle Paul gave up on Mark. He said, “Mark’s been a failure—he’s been a deserter.” Mark even caused a rift between Paul and Barnabas! (Acts 15:39) Yet God gave Mark a second chance. In later years Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Not only that, God gave him the privilege of writing the Gospel of Mark.
God gave Peter a second chance. Simon Peter cursed, swore and denied Christ in the darkest hour of His life, and yet Simon Peter was a great preacher on the day of Pentecost.
For Paul, it was hunting down and murdering Christians. It’s difficult to commit a “failure” that surpasses that.
Aren’t you glad that God is the God of a second chance? Bring your failure to Him.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If you confess your sin, He will forgive your sin. He will give you a brand new start. And after you get this new start, you may serve Him better than ever because you've learned a lesson. You've known the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Now you're ready to serve the Lord with power that you never had before.
Lamentations 3:22-23 may be a word from God for you today:
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
Aren't you glad that His compassions fail not? They are new every morning! Aren't you glad that regardless of what happened yesterday, today is “the day the Lord hath made”? Aren't you glad He is the God of the second chance? He is the God of a fresh start.
There is something about the nature and character of God revealed in Joshua 8:1. Don’t miss it. The God who judges failure is also the God who is willing to forgive sin when it's confessed, repented of, repudiated and put away.
God will give you a second chance.
In 2020 especially, give those you love the personal touch only a hand-signed Christmas card provides. And while you’re at it, send a card that speaks to the world’s greatest need, the love and salvation found only through Jesus Christ! INSIDE THE CARD: The real wonder of Christmas is that the answer to our most difficult questions came to us as a child. Jesus is the answer. He is the greatest Love worth finding.