Identifying Your Ai

In Joshua 7 we read an interesting story. It is the story of one man’s sin that ultimately cost 36 men their lives. Joshua has just led the armies of Israel to a victory over Jericho while saving Rahab and her family because she hid the spies that Joshua sent into the land before taking it. Now in chapter 7 they are excited and fired up and ready for battle again! The last verse in chapter 6 tells us that the Lord was with Joshua and that the fame of Joshua was heard throughout all the country. Now there is a huge problem as we begin the next chapter. A man by the Achan, the son of Carmi, has taken some gold, silver, and a Babylonish garment from the land. Because of Achan’s sin God’s anger was kindled against the children of Israel and caused Joshua much grief. But before the sin of Achan is revealed, Joshua sends three thousand men to a small little piece of land called Ai. The men thought that because there were so few people in the land that it would be nothing to take it and be victorious once again. After all, they did just defeat Jericho so Ai should be a piece of cake. Unfortunately they found that there is no victory outside of the grace of God as the few men of Ai sent the three thousand men of Israel running with their tails tucked between their legs! They thought they had this little land whooped but because of the sin in the camp they could not see victory that day.
This is much like the modern day Christian. We let these little sins stay hidden in our lives while we say “I can handle it!” Unfortunately the grave yard is full of those who thought they could handle sin. There are many drunks walking the streets digging through trash cans for a bite to eat and falling asleep in their own filth because they “could handle it” since it was only one drink. There are unfortunate individuals today who are literally coughing up their lungs because they “could handle” just one cigarette. Every Sunday there are people who never make the effort and have no desire to make the effort to be in the House of God because they “could handle” just missing one service! These little sins that once seemed so easy handle can be referred to as a spiritual Ai.  Solomon told us in Proverbs that “Pride goeth before destruction.” Be aware of that cocky attitude because instead of you handling it, that sin just might be handling you!
This is something I have experienced recently. I accepted a position working at a secular rehabilitation center for at risk teenage boys. The job seemed perfect to begin with. Great pay and awesome benefits. At first it involved having to miss a church service here and there because of the schedule. No big deal. Then it got progressively worse. I was working every single Sunday and every single Wednesday night. There was now no time whatsoever for church or the ministry. Now I’ve been in the ministry for over 15 years and preached in hundreds of pulpits across the country, yet here I was not going at all anymore. This was in no way the fault of the employer, but it was my own fault for choosing to take a position that would pull me away from the things of God because I thought “I could handle it!” Now that I resigned, I have taken a drop in pay and lost a few benefits, but I have gained a lesson that is much more valuable which is to keep my eyes focused on Christ and not a crowd. For me, that was my Ai. I thought that it was just a little thing that didn’t matter yet it ended up costing me more than I was willing to pay.
How do we identify these areas in our life? There will not be a huge sign or big warning that says “CAREFUL! THIS IS YOUR Ai” but there are a few ways we can rightly judge whether or not we are getting ready to be defeated by our own spiritual Ai.
How can we tell if we are in over our heads spiritually? Never under estimate the power Satan has over our minds today. He is the prince and the power of the air. He knows how to distract us from the oncoming defeat of Ai while convincing us that we have nothing to worry about. Is what you’re doing keeping you from being faithful to the Word of God? I know we all have busy lives including myself. There are times rather often that I must sit down and reevaluate my time management because i seem to leave out time for my personal devotions with God. Is what you’re doing keeping you from having the time to spend in God’s Word daily? If so, it should be red flag right there. There is no particular time of the day where we are supposed to stop and read the Bible and have personal devotions, but we are supposed to make time on a daily basis to spend with our Lord in His Word. If what you’re doing is causing you to neglect your personal walk with God then it’s only a short matter of time before you have no walk with God whether personal or public! What about church? I understand that life happens and we may not always be able to make every single service every single week. There are some whose work schedules won’t allow them to be there consistently every single service and others who may have health issues that cause them to have to stay home and take care of themselves. Life happens and situations change from time to time but that doesn’t mean we should allow something in our lives that keeps us from being in church with fellow Believers. The apostle Paul told us in Hebrews 10:25 that we are to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.” It becomes a problem when we spend more time away from the things of God than we do actually serving God. It becomes a problem when missing one service here and there turns into missing multiple months worth of services at a time. It becomes a problem when that one drink turns into habit causing you to lose your family and friends and even your own health. It becomes a problem when that one night out on the town turns into a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
One last thing to ask yourself is “who is getting the glory out of it?” Is what you’re doing promoting and sharing the good grace of God or is it displaying your own goodness and the work of your own hands? Paul tells us in the scriptures that “He must increase and I must decrease” In other words, Paul said “enough of me and more of Him!” If what you’re doing fails to give the glory to God then watch out because you may be preparing for a loss to Ai. Don’t allow Ai to take over you or even defeat you. Guard your heart by staying in the Word of God and staying focused on the things of God! Don’t look at the crowd, rather look at the Christ. How do we keep our hearts and lives clean? We do so by bathing in the Word of God. There we can experience first hand the awesome and amazing grace and mercy God offers to all. We can have the peace we’ve been searching for. We can have the rest we’ve been desiring. Stay alert! Stay focused! Stay in the Word of God and don’t be defeated by Ai!

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