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Text Sermons : J.R. Miller : August 18. Failures

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"I brought him to your disciples — but they could not cure him" Matthew 17:16

There are a great many teachers in our Sunday schools who have had similar experiences. Children have been brought to them, possessed by evil spirits — and they have failed to cast out the demons. They have tried every device, gentle and severe; they have prayed and labored, they have talked and wept; but the evil spirits in their scholars have defied all efforts to dislodge them. Teachers of such incorrigible scholars may learn some lessons here.

It may be a little encouragement, first of all, to know that even Christ's apostles met at least one case that they could not do anything with; no wonder if common people like us fail now and then. It is failures like this in the apostles — which bring them down to our level. When we see them victorious and successful at every point — we are discouraged. But when we find them baffled and defeated — we see that they were human, just like us, and could do nothing by themselves. We get far more real help from Paul's experience with his "thorn" — than we get from his "third Heaven" exaltation. In this latter experience, he is so far beyond us that we cannot follow him; in the former experience, we are on familiar ground.

It may be instructive also to study the reasons of the apostles' failure. For one, the Master was absent; the disciple cannot do anything without His Lord. This is a lesson we should deeply impress on our own minds. Unless we have Christ with us — all our Christian work will utterly fail. Of ourselves — we can never change a heart. Another reason was lack of faith in the disciples; unbelief makes any one weak. Though absent, Christ's power would have been theirs, had not their faith failed. Still another reason was the hardness of the case: all cases are not alike difficult, some requiring more faith and spiritual power than others.





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