Success on God’s terms

Success on God’s terms

Deuteronomy 29:9 NIV

Two men were talking and one said, “Do you know the secret of success?” The other replied, “No, what is it?” The first man said, “I can’t tell you.” His friend asked, “Why?” The first guy said, “Because it’s a secret!” Success, as God defines it, is not a secret. He repeatedly says in His Word that He wants us to be successful in life. But as our faces differ, so does God’s plan of success for each of us differ. Success is simply discovering God’s will for your life and doing it. Consider high definition television (HDTV). This technology makes possible an additional hundred lines of resolution on a screen so that the picture is virtually lifelike. The industry calls it “super clarity.” Whether you stand ten feet away or two feet away, the picture looks perfectly clear – no fuzzy lines, no distortions, no shadows. What would a successful life look like in high definition? In order to find that level of clarity, you need to dig into God’s Word and find out what He thinks about success. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” When God created man, one of the first things He told him to do was “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). In the book of Job we read the words, “Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly” (Job 8:7 NKJV). But God-ordained success comes with a caveat, and it’s non-negotiable: God will bless you – in order to make you a blessing to others.

Soul food: Amos 1:1-5:17Matt 20:17-28Ps 119:137-144Prov 18:22-24

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How “hungry” are you?

How “hungry” are you?

Psalm 107:9 NIV

Successful people are often just people who were a little hungrier and thirstier for success than the rest of us. What we desired, they pursued. Napoleon was born in poverty. His classmates made fun of him in school. But he devoted himself to his books, excelled in his studies, and became the brightest student in class. Before his life was over, he conquered much of the world! If a seedling tree has to fight its way up through rocks to get to sunlight and air, then wrestle with storms and frost to survive, you can be sure of one thing: Its root system will be strong and its timber resilient. Nature itself teaches us that it’s impossible to succeed without going through adversity. If you’re successful and haven’t experienced hardship, you can be sure someone else has experienced it for you. And if you’re experiencing adversity without succeeding, there’s a good chance somebody else will succeed because of the price you paid. Either way, there’s no achievement without adversity. The acid test of character is determined by what it takes to discourage you and make you quit. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a man whose shop burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Next morning he arrived at work carrying a table which he set up amid the charred ruins. On it he placed a sign that read, “Everything lost except wife, children, and hope. Business as usual tomorrow morning.” Solomon said, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings” (Proverbs 22:29). You say you want to succeed? The question is – how “hun gry” are you?”

Soul food: Acts 18-19Matt 10:11-20Ps 146Prov 16:4-5

 

Choose your battles wisely

Choose your battles wisely

Exodus 18:23 NLT

A good general knows it’s a mistake to try and fight on too many fronts at once; that when you’re “spread out too thin” you’re vulnerable! And the same is true in life. To avoid undue stress, you must refuse to let every little thing upset you. In other words, choose your battles wisely. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Before you devote time, energy, and emotion to an issue, ask yourself how important it is, and how much of your time, effort, and energy is appropriate. Try to discern what really matters and focus on those things. Learn the differ ence between major matters and minor matters. Moses was becoming exhausted because he personally handled every problem, dispute, and crisis that arose among the Israelites. Perhaps he thought he had to do so, since he was the leader of the nation. But his father-in-law said to him, in essence, “You take care of the big things and leave the small stuff to someone else.” He went on to say, “‘If you follow this advice…you will be able to endure the pressures’…Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions” (vv. 23-24 NLT). Stop and think about it: Your life already has plenty of stress and strain, so why add more if you can avoid it? When you’re tempted to take on a “battle,” step back and decide if it’s worth it and what it will require from you. Don’t go to war when there are no spoils.

Soul food: Acts 16-17Matt 10:1-10Ps 140Prov 16:3

 

Be wise; don’t compare!

Be wise; don’t compare!

2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT

Jesus said: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:10-14 NKJV). Whereas the Pharisee thought of himself as the best-dressed man in town, God saw his garments of self-righteousness as “filthy rags” and rejected him (See Isaiah 64:6). An unknown poet wrote: “I dreamed death came the other night and heaven’s gates swung wide. With kindly grace an angel ushered me inside. And there to my astonishment stood folks I’d known on earth; some I’d judged and labelled as unfit or of little worth. Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free; for every face showed stunned surprise – no one expected me!” We are all saved by grace, not works (See Titus 3:5). We don’t get into heaven based on our performance, but on Christ’s performance on the cross. That being true, don’t try to lift yourself up by putting someone else down. Don’t assume that you have the right to judge their character, heart motives, or spirituality. When you do that, the Bible says you are “not wise.”

Soul food: Acts 8-9Matt 8:28-34Ps 118:10-18Prov 15:31-32

 

Stay in the game till it’s over

Stay in the game till it’s over

Psalm 27:1 NKJV

Author Jon Gordon says: “There was a time [as children] when we jumped from the jungle gym and went on roller coaster rides. No goal was unattainable. Then [when we grew up] the doubters dissuaded us from going after our dreams…’You’re crazy…it’s too hard…play it safe…dreams weren’t meant for people like us.’ They instilled their insecurities in us…and with so many people saying we can’t…and so few saying we can, we let fear into our lives. We’re so scared of losing what we have that we don’t go after what we want. We hold on so tightly to the status quo that we never experience what could be…I call this ‘playing to lose.’ We see it in sports. When a team has the lead, they start thinking about how not to lose instead of how to win. They play safe and scared while the other team takes chances, plays without fear, and wins. David said, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ Living a life [of faith] means overcoming fear and adopting a ‘play to win’ mindset…one that says even if you do fail you won’t give up or let your dreams die. Success isn’t automatically given to us, it’s pursued with all the energy and sweat we can muster. Obstacles and struggles are part of life…they make us appreciate success. If everything came easy we’d never know how it feels to succeed. Obstacles were meant to be overcome. Fear was meant to be conquered. Success was meant to be achieved. They’re part of life, and those who succeed refuse to give up till the game is over.”

Soul food: Jer 45-48Matt 6:9-18Ps 110Prov 15:8-9

 

Three biblical rules for success (1)

Three biblical rules for success (1)

Joshua 1:8 NIV

God told Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and…have good success” (v. 8 NKJV). God views success as simple to achieve, and equally simple for Him to measure. If we are going to succeed in things that really matter, we must follow the instructions for life found in Scripture. So here are three biblical rules for success: First, look it up. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.” Or as the American Express credit card company likes to say, “Don’t leave home without it!” Success entails making the study of God’s Word a constant part of your life. This may mean a radical change for you. Ninety percent of Americans own a Bible. Fifty percent never read it, including 23 percent of all followers of Christ. And only 18 percent of those read it every day. Imagine going to a doctor when you’re sick and getting a prescription that can make you well. But you only take it once a week, or when you feel like it, or never at all. Would you blame the doctor for not getting well? Some of us do that with God: “Lord, why has this happened to me? I don’t understand it.” Would you say the medicine doesn’t work? Not if you don’t take it. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). So the word for you today is: Get into God’s Word and get it into you!

Soul food: Jer 22-24Matt 2:1-15Ps 59:9-17Prov 14:23-24

 

 

Share it with them

Share it with them

John 4:14 NKJV

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” (Luke 5:30 NLT). Such contempt – and from those who should have been the first to show love and compassion! Jesus loved people; look how He dealt with the woman at the well. First, He broke the rules. Jews didn’t mix with Gentiles, and they certainly didn’t associate with her kind. (She’d been divorced five times.) Jesus walked for miles to meet this woman. He went into her world to bring her into His. He mixed with her not to take advantage of her or become like her, but to reach, rede em, and restore her. That’s why He’s called “a friend of…sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Could people say that about you? Second, He broke the ice. Jesus talked about what she was interested in – water. You must start where people are, not where you think they should be. You must use words they understand. And get over your fear of rejection. You may lose face if they say no, but think what they’ll lose if they never have a chance to say yes to the gospel. Third, He broke the news. He offered her living water instead of dead religion. How can you say you love someone and not share with them the greatest thing you ever found – salvation? Everybody you meet is hung up on the past, anxious about the future, or in need of a real friend. Once you find which door they’re behind, walk through it with love and sensitivity. They’re thirsty for “the living water.” Share it with them.

Soul food: 2 Kings 24-25Mark 14:12-26Ps 73:17-28Prov 13:20

 

Your Father’s got you!

“Your Father’s got you!”

John 10:28 TM

On a hot Florida afternoon, a little boy swimming in the lake behind his house didn’t see the alligator that was following him. His father, who was doing yard work, saw it and yelled to his son to turn back. Too late! Just as the boy reached his dad, the alligator reached the boy. In an incredible tug-of-war the father grabbed his son’s arms while the alligator snatched his legs. The alligator was determined, but the father was too passionate to let go. A farmer driving by heard the screaming, leaped from his truck, and shot the reptile. Remarkably, the boy survived, and after weeks in the hospital he was interviewed by the local paper. He showed the reporter the terrible scars on his legs, then with obvious pride he added, “I’ve got great scars on my arms too because my dad held me and wouldn’t let go!” Jesus said, “[You] are protected from the Destroyer…No one can steal [you]…out of my hand.” It’s not that the Enemy won’t try. He’ll make you think you’re so far from God that there’s no way home. He’ll send others to attack you with discouragement and guilt. He’ll tempt you to walk away from God. You may even make poor choices that leave you spiritually and emotionally scarred, but when you belong to God no one can have you! No circumstances can take you away from His love (See Romans 8:38). No consequence can steal you from the hand of your Father. “Your Father’s got you!” Let those powerful words of assurance give you peace today.

Soul food: 2 Kings 18:17-20:21Mark 13:24-37Ps 80:12-19Prov 13:13-16

 

Being there in the crisis (1)

Being there in the crisis (1)

Romans 12:8 TM

You say, “It’s not my responsibility. I’m not getting involved!” Psychologists call this “compassionate disengagement,” the tendency to avoid helping someone in trouble. Whether your motivation is inconvenience, self-protection, or indifference, it’s wrong. “Being there” is how you demonstrate your love for God and your neighbor. And helping requires recognizing three kinds of crises: (1) Accidental or situational crises. These involve things like sudden threats to our well-being, disruptive events, unexpected losses, the discovery of a serious illness, the death of a loved one, a family breakdown, the loss of livelihood or security. Job experienced all these events together and wondered why God allowed so many bad things to happen to him. (2) Developmental crises. These occur in the course of everyday life. Moving houses, going away to college, adjusting to marriage, parenting, retirement, aging, declining health, and the loss of friends. Abraham and Sarah moved many times. They also endured years of childlessness and family stress, including the challenge of sacrificing Isaac. (3) Existential crises. These are when we face disturbing truths about ourselves. We may see ourselves as failures, grapple with being divorced or widowed, learn that our illness is incurable, experience rejection because of our race, class, age, or gender, or realize we may be getting too old to fulfill our life goals. True “helpers” understand, get involved, and encourage. They keep their eyes open, and are quick to “give aid to people in distress.”

Soul food: 1 Kings 1-2Mark 7:14-23Ps 88:9b-18Prov 11:27-29

 

Restoring damaged people (2)

The Word for Today

  2019/05/11

Restoring damaged people (2)

1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV

The apostle Paul writes, “I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13 NKJV). Paul had a criminal record. He had the blood of innocent men and women on his hands. Yet God used him to write half the New Testament, establish the church, and carry the name of Jesus into the courts of Caesar. But would you have trusted him to be the leader of your denomination, or envisioned him teaching great truths and introducing you to revelations he received from heaven? The Bible says, “God’s gifts and his call are irrevo cable” (Romans 11:29 NIV). God never cancels our calling and He never withdraws the spiritual gifts He gives us. And if He does not, we must not. How should we handle a brother or sister in Christ who goes astray? With gentleness! “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2 NKJV). Is restoring people sometimes messy? Yes. Is it easy? No. Paul says it’s a “burden,” especially when they’ve brought embarrassment to God’s redeemed family. But that’s the point – they are still our spiritual family! And the world is watching to see how we treat them. If we throw away those who stumble, why would the world believe we wouldn’t do the same to them? Think about it. If you can’t find grace in the family of God, where are you going to find it?

Soul food: Heb 1-4Mark 6:14-29Ps 18:1-29Prov 11:19-21