How many times has someone sat across from me in my office and said, “I have failed.” A wife says, “I dreamed of being a good wife, but I’ve failed.” A husband says, “I wanted to be a good husband, but I’ve failed.” Parents say, “We have children and we feel like we’ve failed as parents.” Preacher, “I tried to make it at Bible College, but I’ve failed. I want my degree, but I can’t seem to get good grades.” Preacher, “I’ve failed as a teenager. I can’t seem to please my parents or anybody!”
May I introduce you to the three most successful men in the Scriptures? If I were to ask you who they are of course we would not all agree. Some where on that list would be the name Paul, Peter, and Moses.
However, I do not think that Paul was one of the three most successful men in the Bible, nor Moses, nor Peter. The three men I am speaking of were used of God to pen much of the Old Testament.
A part from the book of Psalms, the largest book of the Bible, the Bible was penned by one of the three men The second largest book of the Bible, chapter wise, was penned by another one of these three men. The fourth largest book of the Bible was written by another one of theses three men. These three men penned what we call the Major Prophets.
Their names are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. There are sixty-seven chapters in all the other Old Testament prophesies. There are 166 chapters in these three alone. Theses are great men! Men that God choose to pen three of the four largest books, chapter wise, in the entire cannon of Scripture.
I happen to believe these are the most successful men in the Bible. Our problem is we are accustomed to success stories like John the Baptist who preached on the banks of the Jordan and said, “Behold the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world” and multitudes came to hear him preach. Most of the twelve Apostles were saved and baptized through John the Baptist.
We are accustomed to success stories like the Beloved John who built the giant church of Ephesus. How about Adiniram Judson who went to the mission field and for seven years did not have on convert in Burma. Yet, he turned an entire continent toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are used to success stories like D. L. Moody who saw one million souls come to God, like C. H. Spurgeon who built the great Spurgeon Tabernacle in London, England, where thousands came to church, like Charles G. Finney, like J. Frank Norris, like G. B. Vick, like Lee Roberson, like Jack Hyles, or John R. Rice.
We are accustomed to those great churches, great schools, and great revivals. Wait a minute there is a success that is greater than those and that is to die trying!
When I arrived at Bible College I was the most ignorant man alive about the Bible. I had never read the Bible through! I was raised in an American Baptist denomination where they used Sunday school quarterlies. We were assigned parts to read and then make a brief speech about what we read.
I knew it was God’s will that I attend Bible College even though I knew my shortcomings spiritually. I told my wife that I may fail, but I would die trying!
That, my friend, has been my motto for all of these 49 years of being in the ministry. I may not succeed, but I will die trying. Maybe the greatest success of all is to die trying.
I know preachers who never built a great church, but kept on trying. Many a preacher has said to me that he would die trying! Those are the success stories of life! To die trying is the greatest success of all.
Everyone can’t build a big church, but they can die trying! Everybody can’t preach a great revival, but everybody can die trying! Everybody can’t build a large Sunday school class, but everybody can die trying. Everyone can’t build a large bus route, get straight A’s, but everyone can die trying.
To die trying is a greater success than to succeed. If you keep on going and are not succeeding and yet you succeed in continuing to try until you die; I contend that is the greatest success of all. For someone to say of you “He died trying” is the greatest compliment you will ever receive.
God told Jeremiah that he’d never succeed before he began. God told Jeremiah he would fail! I like the guy who said, “The depression didn’t bother me cause I was a flop during the boom.”
God called Jeremiah and He told him that from his mother’s womb God had called him and chosen him. You would think that the very fact that God had chosen him he would succeed.
God told Jeremiah that kings, priests, family, country, and his own race would oppose him. God told Jeremiah that he would not succeed! Jeremiah went to prison, home town threatened to kill him, he was not allowed to come to the house of God for a season, he was misunderstood, he led not great revival, he built no great church, he preached for forty-one years without a great revival or having fire fall from Heaven.
He preached under the reign of six different kings for forty-one years and the only success he had was he died trying!
Any one can die trying. Everybody can’ be a success like a Moody, Billy Sunday, Lee Roberson, Jack Hyles, John R. Rice, J. Frank Norris, G. B. Vick, or Curtis Hutson. Every one cannot achieve success such as they did, but any one can die trying at whatever God has called them to do.
In Ezekiel 2:1-10 we read where God said to Ezekiel that he was going to be preaching to a stiff hearted impudent people. God told him to not be afraid of their words, that he would be dwelling among scorpions, not to be dismayed at their looks, that they area a rebellious house, and that he would be a flop!
A man who plows a field on an Arkansas farm, who rears his children, who loves his wife, pays his debts, is a decent citizen, goes to church, loves his God, believes the Scriptures, and worships his God; that man when he dies may not have a dime in the bank, but if he dies trying he is a greater success story than them all! Die Trying! Die Trying! Die Trying!
The greatest success of all is that man who never sees a great revival, great crowds, or builds a great church, but he keeps on going and he dies trying!
God gave three of the four biggest books in the Old Testament to those who flopped, but dies trying!
Ezekiel preached for twenty-two years. He was told before he started that he would fail as a preacher. He married a beautiful woman. The Bible says she was called, “the desire of his eyes.” They had a lovely child. The baby died, but Ezekiel kept trying!
One day as he preached on the street corner stones began to be hurled at him. Blood began to drip down his face. Tears began to fill his eyes when words like “briars and scorpions” were being yelled at him from the tongues of Hell.
Ezekiel, beaten, bloodied, and discouraged with no one walking the aisles trusting the Saviour goes home at night to the desire of his eyes. She, no doubt, when he came home moistened a towel and wiped the blood away and comforted her husband. No doubt she took his shirt off and wiped the blood from his back.
She prepared a warm meal for him. She kissed him and told him how proud of him she was. Thank God for the thousands of preachers in small towns who keep on going. The Sword of the Lord never runs their sermons. The Revival Fires never prints their sermons. The Baptist Magazine never covered their ministry.
They have no great crowds, no big cities to draw from, and no giant church. They have only a small town to draw from and they just keep on going and they will die trying! They have a greater success than all of the rest put together.
The next morning Ezekiel would rise up early and go down town to his spot and begin to preach again the Gospel to a nation in captivity. He was a captivity preacher and as he preached the Gospel stones would pelt his face and blood would roll down his back, from his brow, but he kept on preaching.
Give me the preacher they will not quit, give me the bus captain that will not quit, the Sunday school teacher who will not quit, the staff member who will not quit, or the Christian who will not quit and I will show you some one who is a success because they will die trying! Battles come and you must keep on going if you are to die trying!
Health is bad, burdens come, and night after night Ezekiel comes home knowing he’s beautiful wife would be waiting for him. However, one night when he returns home with his shirt sticking to his back with dried blood, his eyes swollen, his face beaten; he finds no light in the window.
As he nears his home neighbors meet him and tell him his wife has died. He goes in and looks at her cold dead body. The Bible says the next morning Ezekiel took his Bible and went downtown to preach the Gospel on the streets just like he did yesterday. The man of God, Ezekiel, knowing he would fail was a success because he died trying!
You may not succeed, but you do not have to be a Benedict Arnold. You do not have to be a turncoat and turn back, you can keep on going, you can rise back up, and you can die trying!
Ezekiel left no college behind! He was murdered in Babylon and buried on the banks of the Euphrates. The Scriptures say, “At even my wife died and I did in the morning as I was commanded.”
You can say, “At even I lost my job and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” You can say, “At even my baby died and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” You can say, “At even my child was ill and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” You can say, “At even my husband left me and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” You can say, “At even my wife left me and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” You can say, “In the even I found I had cancer and I did as I was commanded.”
Keep on trying! Die trying! The greatest success of all is to die trying! Ezekiel left no big church, no college, no orphanage, no ranch named after him, no accolades, no memory of a great revival, no honorary doctorates, no scrapbook of headlines, no memory of a Pentecost, no memory of calling fire down from Heaven, and no memory of a parting of a Red Sea.
He saw no feeding of a 5,000, no blind man being healed, no deaf made to hear, no lame made to walk, and no dead person made to live.
What in the world did Ezekiel do that was successful? Where is the big church he built? Where is the great campaign he held? Where is the great school he founded? What success did he have? He had the greatest success of all in that he died trying! It is easier to be faithful and succeed trying than it is to be faithful in trying to succeed.
Isaiah was called of God and in essence told by God that ye would never succeed. God warned Isaiah, that the people would not hear his message.
For sixty years he preached under four different kings and never saw an increase in attendance. He never had a large church. He never led the association in baptisms. He never had his name on a building. He not only did not have a great revival he had no revival at all! Absolutely no results! No college, no seminary, no summer camp, or no orphanage.
After sixty years the only success he has just happens to be the greatest success of all and that is he died trying! People who do not try will never amount to much in life.
“Preacher, I have tried and tried and tried!” My answer to turning you failure into your success is to die trying! If you give up, you not only did not succeed at what you tried to do, but you did not succeed at keeping on trying!