QRC. Failure

November 11, 2012

The year was 1863 and the US Civil War was in its second year.   Historians tell us that at that point if you
were keeping score the Confederate Army was ahead.

The War had shifted its focus from the Southern States and
General Robert E Lee was embarking on his second Invasion of the North marching
into Pennsylvania.  The hope being, that
if the South could penetrate as far as Harrisburg or even Philadelphia that the
North would call an end to the war that had divided a nation.    The Battle began at Gettysburg Pennsylvania
on July 1 and the Confederate forces quickly took the advantage.  By the second day the Rebel forces are preparing
for the push that would assure them the victory.
One of the vital positions being held was a hill called “Little
Round Top” and it was held by the “20th Maine”, a volunteer unit in
the Union army.   The unit’s commander was
Colonel Joshua Chamberlain a 34 year old professor of rhetoric from Bangor
Maine.
Just a year before we are told there had been over a 1000
men under Chamberlain’s command when they left Bangor.  However by 1863 the numbers had been reduced
to a few hundred who had been commanded to hold the line at Little Round Top
against the advancing 15th & 47th Alabama regiments. 
After the third advance of the confederate forces the men of
the 20th Maine were out of ammunition and the command was given to
gather the ammunition from the dead and the wounded.  The men were able to gather enough ammunition
to hold off another attack from the Alabamians one more time.  But only one more time.  The Southerners gathered at the bottom of the
hill, preparing to attack again, knowing that the small group of union soldiers
couldn’t hold on forever.  And they were
right.
Chamberlain was left with fewer than 100 men facing a force
many time their size.  Without ammunition
and no chance of reinforcements it was apparent that their brave efforts had
failed and the line would be breached.  
They had tried their best, no one could fault the men of the
20th Maine or their commander, but it was apparent to all with the
sense that God gave them that they were finished  I’m sure this wasn’t how Joshua Chamberlain
pictured his military career ending when he took a leave of absence from Bowdoin
College. 
Have you ever been in that position?  At your own “Little Round Top”?   You’ve
tried, you’ve really tried you’ve given it everything you have but it just hasn’t
seemed to work.  Perhaps it was in your
work, maybe a passion in your life or a relationship or maybe as part of your
commitment to follow Christ.  But now
your resources are spent, you are tired and you can’t imagine going on.  In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of your
friends and in the eyes of yourself you are a failure. 
This is week three of our “QR Codes for your life series”.  QRCs or Quick Retrieval Codes are those
square bar codes you see everywhere you go these days.  They are in magazine, newspapers, on
billboards and signs in restaurants.  
And with the proper app you can scan them with your iPhone;
BlackBerry or Smart Phone and they will take you to a website with more
information on the topic at hand.
If you scan the QRC on the back of our bulletin it will take
you to Cornerstone’s Website where you will find out all there is to know about
our church. 
What if there were QRC’s for our Christian life, when we
came to a difficult situation we could just scan the code and it would take us
to where we need to go in God’s word to find an answer? 
That of course it our premise
for the month of November.  Last week we
looked at Temptation and our QRC took us to 1
Corinthians 10:13
The temptations in your
life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will
not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted,
he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
This week we are looking at Failure.  What does God’s word have to say when we feel
that we can’t go on?   But first back to
our story.
July 2nd 1863, Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th
Maine have held back the men of the 15th Alabama Infantry regiment four times,
but now they were out of ammunition and almost out of men.  Chamberlain orders his men to again collect
ammunition from the dead and dying only to be told there was no ammunition
left.
Some of his junior officers recommended surrendering, but
Chamberlain had been told how vital their position was to the Union defence and
he knew that they would be unable to defend Little Round Top one more time.  And so he commanded his men to fix their
bayonets and he led the charge against the enemy position.  And the remaining 80 members of the 20th
Maine, armed only with bayonets captured over 400 heavily armed confederate
soldiers. 
One commentator wrote: 
“Had
the 20th Maine retreated from the hill, the entire Union line would have been
flanked, and would have most likely lost the battle of Gettysburg, although
there is much debate on the subject. Union morale and support for the war was
wavering, due to many defeats. If the Union had lost the battle of Gettysburg
the Confederate army could possibly been able to march on to Washington D.C.
and end the war. The 20th Maine’s action in holding the hill has been credited
with helping to turn the tide of the war.”
Chamberlain’s actions were key in the Union army’s victory
at Gettysburg and Gettysburg was the turning point in the War Between the
States, all because Joshua Chamberlain refused to give in and quit.
Chamberlain may have been considered a failure after the
fourth charge of the 15 Alabamians, but he wasn’t a quitter, and that made all
the difference in how the story ends.  By
the way, Chamberlain went on to become a general in the Union forces, was the
General who accepted the surrender of the Confederate forces in 1865, was
elected as the Governor of Maine for four terms from 1866 until 1869 and then
served as president of the Bowdin College in Bangor until 1883. Not sure if he
would have achieved those goals if he had of quit on July 2, 1863 and become a
prisoner of war.
But what does the bible tell us
about failure?  Our QR code today takes
us to Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing
what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we
don’t give up.
Think about it we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we
don’t give up.
 
There are two thoughts here, the first is the reward, and
the second is giving up.  And you can
either obtain the reward, or you can give up.  
However, you cannot, cannot, cannot give up and obtain the reward.  There are lots of reasons to quit, and a lot
of people quitting, but I’ve got good news for you; you don’t have to quit.
Regardless of how tough it gets, and regardless of what
people say, and regardless of how discouraged you feel; you don’t have to
quit. 
Quitting is a choice that you will make and nobody can
make for you.  “Will I quit or will I
keep going?”  “Will I stop or will I
press on?”, “Will I give up or will I succeed?”    Those are questions that can be answered by
you and you alone. And so this morning we are going to look at ten ways to quit
the quitting habit.  
1) Realise that
failure isn’t final.
Here’s the encouraging word for the day if you live, if
you walk if you talk, if you endeavour, if you try, if you attempt anything you
will at one time or another be a failure. 
Noah got drunk he was a failure. 
Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled to the desert, he was a failure.
David committed adultery he was a failure. Peter denied knowing Christ, he was
a failure. 
You don’t really think that the Wright brothers flew on
their first attempt do you?   Or that
Edison got the light bulb right the first time? 
Or that Bell perfected the phone on his first try. 
Personally I like the words of J.M.
Barrie, the author of Peter Pan who said “We are
all failures—at least, all the best of us are.”   The only people who never fail are the
people who never try, as a matter of fact it would be well within the mark to
say the world is divided into two categories: failures and unknowns.
This may not be the most encouraging statement in the
world but listen up folks; you are going to make mistakes, because my friends
that is a fact of life.  And you can let
those mistakes knock you down, and walk all over you and keep you flat on your
back or you can say, “God, what can I learn from this mistake?”  You didn’t learn to walk with your first
step.  You didn’t learn to swim with your
first stroke.  You didn’t learn to play
an instrument on your first attempt.
The very same mistake can be a stumbling block or a
stepping stone and only you will decide. 
Failure is not final it is just life.  I have said before that every hill has a top,
every mountain has a summit, every tunnel has an end and every night has a
dawn.  The Bible may say that “trouble
came to pass” but it never says that “trouble came to stay.”  Failure isn’t final.  Every day that Denn
Guptill lives, Denn Guptill
makes mistakes, and all God’s people said. . . Don’t let your failures be
final.   Listen to the words of Samuel Beckett “Ever tried?
Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”.
2) Believe in
yourself 
As a child of almighty God, creator of the universe, when
you say “I can’t do that” you are really saying, “God can’t do that.”  And when you say “I haven’t got what it takes”
you are really saying, “My God isn’t big enough.”  But you know you are probably right, you
probably can’t do it, you probably haven’t got what it takes, you probably are
a miserable, pathetic destitute failure, but that doesn’t matter because you
are a child of the king. 
Prince Charles has problems but he is still Crown Prince
Heir Apparent to the British Empire and he can’t
lose that.  And you can’t lose the fact
that you are a child of almighty God with all of the power and privileges that
go with that.
And even though you will
discover that there are times that you can’t lean on yourself, you can lean on
the book and the book says, in Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Not some things, not a few things, not most things, not
easy things.  But I can do everything
through Christ who gives me strength. 
Moses couldn’t part the Red Sea but he did.  Joshua couldn’t bring down the walls of Jericho but he did.  Samson couldn’t pull down the walls of the
temple but he did.  Daniel couldn’t
survive in the lion’s den but he did. 
Peter couldn’t walk on water but he did, and Jesus Christ the carpenter from
Nazareth couldn’t
come back from the dead but he did. 
Christians if you learn nothing
else from this message, if you never commit another scripture to memory please
memorise Philippians 4:13
For I can do
everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
3) Understand that
other people have problems too  
You aren’t alone; there are other people out there who
have problems just like you.  And no
matter how bad things seem there is someone who is a little worse off.  Your foot hurts?   There is someone out there missing their
leg.   You missing a leg?   There is someone out there who is confined
to a wheelchair and can’t use their arms. You stuck in a wheel chair and can’t
use your arms? Read the obits in the paper, there are all kinds of people who
are dead.  You ok?  And you thought you had it bad. 
4) Do something
worthwhile 
Realize that you aren’t the only person in the world.
Quitters are usually selfish people, they quit because they aren’t being
fulfilled, or they aren’t making progress, or they are depressed.  But it’s always them.  Get involved, get involved in the church, be
a volunteer at the hospital, hospital are always looking for people to come in
and read to their patients.   Visit shut-ins,
work at a youth drop in, and help out at school.
Do something for others make your life worthwhile, you
have been saved to touch a lost and dying world so get to it, do something.
5)  Set Realistic Goals
Some people quit because they get discouraged because
their goals are too high.  That is not to
say that we shouldn’t have high goals, but realize that they may not happen
tomorrow.  The longest journey begins
with a single step, and that first step is as much a goal as is the end of the
trip.  If you are learning to fly you
goal shouldn’t be to be a qualified pilot after the first lesson.  Need to lose weight concentrate on the first
pound not the first hundred pounds.  Want
to finish a degree, take it one course at a time.  One reason I never learned how to play guitar
was because I wanted to play like Leona Boyd the first week.
Dream big, but have some realistic steps along the
way. 
6) Remember That
With God You Are On The Winning Side. 
We have to realize the same thing that David realised as
he stood looking up at Goliath, and that is this when we are on God’s side it
doesn’t matter how big the giants are, we are on the winning side. And that’s
all she wrote.  Always remember that if
you are on God’s side then God is on your side, and that is the winning
side.  And there isn’t anything that
needs to be done in this world that God can’t do through me or through you if we
will let him.  
7)  Ask Others for Help 
Don’t be so proud that you fail
simply for lack of asking for help.  I’m
a terrible one for that, but sometimes we have to admit that we need the help
of others.  There’s a great illustration
about this in the bible, in Exodus 17:8-12 While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of
Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and
fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill,
holding the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did what Moses had commanded
and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the
top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the
Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites
gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold
them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on
each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until
sunset.
When Jesus went to the garden
he asked Peter James and John to be with him. 
In Galatians 6:2 we are told to bear one another’s burdens.  Don’t try to carry the weight of the world on
your shoulders  listen to what king
Solomon said in Ecclesiastes
4:9-10
Two people
are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person
falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real
trouble.
God can help and he might help by providing a somebody, so
don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
8) Commit Yourself
Publicly 
For whatever reason it’s a lot easier to stick with, and
accomplish a goal when others know about it. 
Let others in on your dreams, your visions, your aspirations, let others
know what you want to accomplish in this life. Make yourself accountable to
others.  It is a lot easier to fulfil a
pledge made to someone else then a pledge made to yourself.  Share with your friends a little bit of what
you seek to achieve in this life.  It
also gives you a degree of accountability when someone follows up on your goals
and can offer suggestions, help and encouragement.
Let’s go back to David and 1 Samuel 17:41-47 Goliath walked out toward David
with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced
boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And
he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your
flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the
Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you
in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom
you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut
off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds
and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not
with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
Now that’s putting it on the line.
9) Visualise Your
Successes. 
Now I know that this type of thing has had a lot of bad
press but I think that it is one of the keys to succeeding is the fact that you
really have to have a firm grip on where you are going.  Cause if you don’t know where you’re going
how will you know when you get there?  It
was Yogi Berra who said, “If you don’t know where you are going you might end up
somewhere else.” 
Stop seeing yourself as a loser, stop seeing yourself as a
quitter, stop seeing yourself as a failure and start seeing yourself the way
that God sees you.  You might not be able
to see Cornerstone the way it is going to be in two years, five years and ten
years down the road, but I can. 
Visualise your dreams because if you can’t see them in your mind you
will probably never see them in reality.  
Rememeber If you never build castles in the air you will never build
anything on the ground.
10) Bring All Your
Problems to God

This is the most important point in this entire message;
if you don’t get anything else get this. 
Christ cares and he wants to help. 
Got a bad marriage, broken dreams, financial problems, spiritual
difficulties, Jesus wants to know, and he doesn’t just want to know he wants to
help.   
One hymn writer wrote, “What a friend we have in Jesus all
our sins and grief’s to bear!  What a
privileged to carry everything to God in prayer.  Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what
needless grief we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”
You don’t have to carry your
load alone in Matthew
11:28-29
Then
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and
I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am
humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
And here is our promise to end
with today:  Hebrews 13:5 . . . God has said, “I will never fail you. I will
never abandon you.”   Because you
may fail God, but God will never fail you.