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If at first you don’t succeed…give it up.

If at first you don’t succeed…give it up.

MAY 2, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / If at first you don’t succeed…give it up.

Steve Brown:
If at first you don’t succeed…give it up. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew executive producer of the program. Our host is Steve Brown. He’s an author and seminary professor who teaches that God’s amazing grace is the key to a life of radical freedom, infectious, joy, and surprising faithfulness to Christ.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end. And as always, I trust that your pastor’s sermon was great, but not as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you have your Bible open to the 13th chapter of Acts. And we’re looking at the question of how do you know when a church is moving in the right direction? Or how do you know when you are moving in the right direction? Bottom line is you find out where Jesus is going and you follow him, but how do you know where he’s going? Well, we’ve been talking about some of the principles involved in that, and we’re going to continue with that today. And we’re looking, and I’m not going to take the time to read those verses because we’ve read them two or three times, but it’s the first four verses of the 14th, no, the 13th chapter of Acts. And as always, we’re going to pray and then we’re going to get down and we’re going to study. Father, we come into your presence sometimes surprised that we’re here. They told us this place was for good people. They told us that this place was for very spiritual and pure people. And we decided it wasn’t for us, until you came and you issued a personal invitation and we’re here because of that. Father, we thank you that you’re our Father with all that means your kindness and your love and your forgiveness and your mercy and your grace and your provision and your protection and your correction. We thank you for being our Father. But we remember that you’re also called the sovereign Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of everything we perceive and experience and all that is and follow that gentleness and that power, becomes the God, that would be you, that we worship. And we worship you because you have been good and kind and gentle. But if you had never been any of that, you’re still a God and you’re still worthy of our worship. Father, you know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast and you know the hard places. Come alongside and grant a double portion of your guidance and your kindness and your peace. And Father, we as always pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins cause there are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. If you have your Bible and you’re in a place where you can, open it to the 13th chapter of the, or your iPhone or your iPad or your android phone, if you’ve got the Scriptures on it. We’re looking at the first four verses of the 13th chapter of the book of Acts. And, we’ve been studying this for a couple of weeks because we’ve been asking the question, how do you know which way to go as an individual, as a church? And we saw that God prepares circumstances for you and for your church. A mission statement, of a church ought to be what the church is, not what it wants to be. The mission statement of a church should be when the leaders get together and they say, alright, what are we good at? What do we, where do we shine? Where’s the passion of our people? What have we been called to do? And it may not be what the church down the street has been called to do and be. And so, you’ve got to ask those kinds of things and God prepares the circumstances, so you know. And then secondly, we saw that God will prepare the leaders. Almost always God anoints a leader, a particular kind of leader, a servant leader that people follow. And as we have seen, if the sheep don’t follow, then that’s not a shepherd. He could be a butcher. And then thirdly, we saw that God will prepare the hearts of his people. Don’t underestimate the terrible meek, the people of God. And these first four verses, the people of God are praying and fasting, they’re together. And they agreed that Paul and Barnabas should be sent out on the first missionary journey. And that voice of the people was a really good thing and a way that God begins to lead. God when he calls one, he calls a bunch. And if you’re trying to determine God’s will in your life, and you’re not checking with people who love you, who will stand with you and pray for you, but tell you the truth. Then you’re going to go in the wrong direction because God ordained it that way. He fixed it, so the body of Christ is responsible for the body of Christ. And then fourthly, God will prepare the power. In other words, God will grant what is needful to do what he’s told us to do. If you try and try, if you try once and you don’t succeed, give it up. And I’m being facetious and making a joke, but not entirely. There’s something to that. You know, we get this vision that we’re sure God told us to do. And then we beat people over the head to raise the money, so we can do it. We go out and do it and then becomes a colossal failure. I’ve done that. I’ve been there, done that and have the bloodied t-shirt. I one time, got a ministry started in a church in Boston that I was serving, got people excited. It was a ministry to a thousand. And we were going to visit and lead to Christ, everybody who moved into our city. And we even got the roles of the electric company and whose electricity they turned on to find out who was new. And do you know what? I had people writing letters, bunches of volunteers, if this were television, you would see me blushing as let talk about it. I mean, we were excited about this ministry. We did a lot of things and you know what happened? It went down in flames. I mean, really bad. The thing just exploded in my face. And I said, God, how could you do this to me? You told me to do this. And God said, I didn’t tell you to do this. You told you to do this. So you gotta know, that if God doesn’t provide. I mean, if you start a ministry or you move in a certain way and you just don’t have what it takes to do what you think God told you to do, then it could be that God didn’t tell you to do it. And that’s true of a church too. I think God honors a ministry. I used to ask sometimes, I served relatively small churches. Everybody thought it was a big church, but it wasn’t. And I’d look down the street and some brother will start a church. And in three weeks he would have 5,000. And I would say, God, what am I chopped liver? I talk better than he does. And I love you as much as he does. But then I forgot about the 13th chapter of Acts and that is God provides what’s needful to do what he told you to do. And he told me to pastor a church that would grow, but not in a gigantic way. And my name would never be in a book on how to have a mega church. And that’s what God, because God provides. We worked so hard to make something that isn’t God’s will, God’s will. And we waste a lot of energy and effort and gifts in doing that. There’s a sense, and you can’t take this too far because there’s a balance to it too. Sometimes you’ve got to really work to see something happen, but for the most part, when you see results, when you see God providing leadership and money, then you know you’re moving in the direction in which he has called you to move. And that’s true in your personal life too. If, God called me to sing, my mentor, Fred Smith felt he, God had called him to be an opera singer and he got one of the best teachers in America to teach him. And after a year of very hard work, the teacher said to my mentor Fred, who’s the wisest man I’ve ever known. And I’ll introduce you to him when get to heaven. But this renowned teacher said, Fred, I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as you work. I mean, you have just, you’ve put hours and hours into this. You’re, in that sense, you’re one of the best students that I ever had. But you lack one thing, you can’t sing. You lack one thing, you don’t have any talent, so go do something else. And that about killed Fred, but he went and did something else he was good at. And he became one of the most important and wise consultants in major business in America and in the church. He wrote a regular column for leadership magazine. And God honored him, in ways that you wouldn’t believe. But if you can’t sing, God, didn’t call you to be in the choir. Okay? And if you can’t talk, he probably didn’t call you to be in the pulpit. Check, cause God provides. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
And that was Steve Brown, continuing to teach us today from Acts 13, about how to know which way we should go as an individual and as a church body. That’s a big question, right? So glad we have a big God who has the answers. Hey, speaking of questions. There are some that come from just kind of a, I don’t know, kind of a point of general curiosity, but there’s other questions that come from, I don’t know, somewhere deeper. Questions like, does God exist? Am I really forgiven and free? If all of this is true, then why don’t I feel different? Well, Steve is no stranger to doubts and questions. In fact, he wrote about those things in a mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. In it, he explores the reasons behind our doubts and explains how we can rest in faith. May we send you this mini-book, for free? Let us know at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
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If you’re in Canada, send your request to

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

Just ask for the free mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. And finally, if you’re able, would you partner in the work of Key Life through giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who simply text Key Life to 28950. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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