Daily Devotional for Tuesday August 22, 2006
Learning through Defeat
(I Samuel 4:2; James 1:5)
Show me a war general who never lost a battle and I will show you a war general who has never been in a battle. Show me a football coach who never lost a game and I'll show you a coach who has never coached a game. Show me a businessman who has never had a bad deal and I will show you a businessman who has never been involved in any deals. As great as Tiger Woods may be at playing golf, even he doesn't win every tournament. Life my friend is made up of winning and losing. The only way you can't lose is to not ever get out there and try. Today, I want to encourage and challenge you to learn from those defeats you experience along your journey through this life.
We live in a world, in a culture, that celebrates winning no matter what is at stake. Watching Tiger Woods win his 12th professional major yesterday epitomized the fact that we love those who win. Athletes and sports teams are celebrated and adored for winning. Winners in the business world are measured by the amount of money they make. The business leaders of our day who we look up to are those who close the big deals, create the cutting edge technology, and end up on the Forbes list of richest people.
Winners in the world of entertainment are the ones who have the most successful movies, the most watched TV programs, the ones who sell the most CDs, the ones who are known by people throughout the world. At the end of every war there is a winner and a loser. Politics at every level is about one thing, getting elected or winning. Winning and losing is actually part of every person's day-to-day life whether it is dealing with your finances, what happens at school or on your job, or something as mundane as getting the parking place right by the door to the mall instead of 12 rows back. We live in a world and society that measures pretty much everything we do in terms of winning and losing.
One of the cold realties of life is that you can't win all the time. Along the way you will suffer defeats in everything. While losing is never fun and nobody enjoys losing, the key issue that I want to address today is that you can learn much from those occasions when you lose. Rather than allowing the defeats you experience in life to demoralize you, to depress you, to paralyze you, take the opportunity to analyze why you lost so that you can do better the next time. We can often learn more about ourselves in defeat than we can in victory. Not only does defeat keep us humble, but it forces us to do better the next time.
This way society has of judging our lives in wins and losses even carries over into our Christian life. Recently I did a Devotional on the fact that there is no failure with God. The only way to fail God is to do nothing for God. Even though the world may consider something we do for the Lord a failure, the world does not factor in things like our obedience, our faithfulness, not to mention the spiritual things taking place that only God knows about. However, we can never lose sight that even in our service for the Lord we are engaged in battles, both in the natural and spiritual realm, that we are trying to win to bring glory and honor to the Lord.
A great example of this has been the attempt by Liveprayer to take the TV program nationwide. Since we are doing something nobody else has ever tried to do before, we have had no practical roadmap and have had to take this walk completely by faith. The month we were on nationwide in July , was something we had to experience to gain a complete understanding of what was involved to do this long term. Obviously it was my goal and desire to continue past July, and the fact is I could have forced the issue and continued into August. But by the end of those 4 weeks in July I realized that I had completely underestimated what we were attempting to do spiritually, emotionally, and financially. It was so overwhelming that I had to pull back just to literally survive. I'm not being dramatic, it was that intense!
So, in what the world would label a defeat, here is what I have learned. Despite having done 870 programs over 3 1/2 years, having been reaching an audience of 1/4 million nightly throughout the State of Florida for the year leading up to our national launch, I underestimated what being able to reach the entire nation, "live" for an hour 5 nights a week on a major secular network would be like. I've spent the last 7 yrs of my life reaching a predominantly non-Christian audience of millions worldwide every single day. I believed I was prepared but simply never imagined the level of warfare that I would encounter. Let me tell you, satan is NOT going to just sit back and watch someone proclaim Biblical Truth and the hope and love of Jesus to the lost and hurting masses on a major secular TV network without major opposition. NO WAY!
Very few could ever understand the level of warfare I have learned to assimilate in my daily life over these past 7 years as a result of bringing God's Truth to over 2 million souls worldwide every day through the Internet and the tens of thousands more every night on secular television via the TV program. What I experienced in July was 100x, no 1000x greater than anyhting I had ever experienced before. In addition to the financial aspects, I fully understand why other ministries stay in the safety of the Christian TV networks, or the few who do air on some secular stations simply preach a very non-confrontational pre-taped message geared to a church audience on Sunday morning.
Financially, Liveprayer has been an absolute miracle of God. We never should have survived the first year after the venture funds we expected 6 months in dried up as a result of the dot.com bubble bursting in early 2000. However, God sustained the work, allowed us to expand and reach more people each year through the Internet, add the secular TV program to the mix which continued to expand, and over time not only stay current with our financial obligations but work down the debt we incurred surviving those first 2 years from over a million to right at $600,000. Having seen God work miracles time and time again in meeting our needs, I underestimated the fact that this would become our main battleground in taking the TV program to the nation. Satan knew if he could keep the finances dried up, we could not stay on the air. Despite years of financial victories, we were now at an entirely different level in going from a budget of $2 million a year to just over $10 million a year.
The reason the warfare was so intense, the reason satan was fighting so hard was evident in those 20 nights we were on. An average audience of 300,000 people each night were hearing the Truth of God's Word proclaimed loudly, boldly, and visibly like nobody else was doing. Being on nationwide "live" for an hour 5 nights a week, people were able to call in and have their faith rewarded as God met their needs. Each night over 5,000 emails for prayer poured in from people who were hurting were reaching out in their time of need, looking for answers and hope. Most important of all, over 2,400 souls we know of came to faith in Christ during those 20 nights. TWENTY FOUR HUNDRED! Praise God!
Each night, I felt the incredible power of being able to share with a lost and hurting nation the Truth of God's Word and the fact He loves them so much. I sensed the hunger and desire through those cameras as people from coast to coast tuned in to hear His Truth proclaimed and the fact they could have a personal relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. Each one of those 20 nights as I told the viewers how they could be saved, I knew there was an all out war going on in the heavenlies. Night after night, the commitments poured in as people surrendered their lives to Jesus!
I love you and care about you so much. God clearly honored our faith to follow Him in using that program during those 20 nights to impact millions of lives, transforming many for all eternity. However, in the world we live in, the fact we were not able to sustain the program past those initial 20 nights would correctly be classified as a defeat. It was in defeat that I learned what it would take spiritually, emotionally, and financially to sustain the program reaching the entire nation "live" for an hour 5 nights a week on a major secular television network. It was in defeat that I found the comfort of God's love and His strength to press forward. It was in defeat that whatever commitment I had made to the Lord to boldly take His Truth and the hope of Christ to the nation through secular television was now solidified and I became resolute in fulfilling His call upon my life.
YOU CAN EITHER LET THE DEFEATS IN LIFE INTIMIDATE YOU FROM EVER REACHING YOUR GOALS, OR YOU CAN USE THE DEFEATS IN LIFE TO MOTIVATE YOU TO VICTORY!!!
Even though I understand that what we did those 20 nights was clearly a victory in God's eyes and for millions of people, satan has temporarily won since every night we are not on, people are not hearing God's Truth and how they can be saved. I know that every day people who will never go to church, never read the Bible, never watch Christian TV, are dying and going to hell because the TV program is not on. I have learned the lessons I needed to learn in defeat so that when we get the program back on nationwide, this time it will be declaring God's Truth and bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ until our Lord returns.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will remember that there is no failure with God. Don't fear stepping out in faith to fulfill whatever it is God has called you to do with your life. I will also be praying that you will realize that we all win and lose along our journey through this life. Losing is no fun, but use those moments as opportunities to correct your mistakes and work on those areas you are weak. Don't let the defeats you experience in life get you down, but use them as learning opportunities so that you can do better the next time. We all enjoy winning, but never forget that we can learn the most from our defeats.
Of course, the one defeat you will suffer from for all eternity is rejecting Jesus Christ as your Savior. The most important victory in your life comes when you accept Christ into your heart and life by faith and have your sins washed away and receive the free gift of everlasting life. If you have never experienced that victory, I encourage you to go to: www.liveprayer.com/bdy_salvatn.html. Pray, ask God to open your heart to the truth of the words there, and make the choice today to ask Jesus Christ into your heart and life by faith. Coming to know Jesus as your personal Savior is the greatest victory there is, since it is one you will enjoy for all eternity!!!