Ever heard of success criteria? Ever heard of people chasing after success? Ever heard people saying how they want to succeed? What does success look like to you? What does it look like to those around you? Is the team striving towards the same goals and shared success? Interestingly enough, looking up success we find the definition of
- the accomplishment of an aim or purpose:“the president had some success in restoring confidence”antonyms: failure
- the attainment of popularity or profit:“the success of his play”antonyms: poverty
- a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity:“I must make a success of my business”
- archaicthe outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims:“the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises”
ORIGINmid 16th cent.: from Latin successus, from the verb succedere ‘come close after’ (see succeed).
What is your aim? What is your goal? What is your target? What will it take to accomplish?
What is your purpose? What is your reason? What is your direction? What will it take to complete it?
What does prosperity look like when it comes to success? What does it look like where you live? What does it look like in the world around you? What will it take to achieve it?
Bible in One Year 2017 (Day 11) : Psalm 8, Matthew 9:14-38, Genesis 24
Today’s devotional looks into success. Ever noticed how some people look at success as
“fame, fortune, or greatness“? Success isn’t a bad thing to happen as God’s success is incredible. Society may see success as “fame, fortune, or greatness” but we can look into God’s Word and find that success is a good thing as it is a blessing from God! So let’s take a look into today’s Word from God and see how in the old and in the new testaments we see how success is presented and how it is different when we hear from Jesus…
So let’s start with praising God for His creation…all that He has created…
1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
–from Psalm 8
How often do you consider all that God created? In those 6 days from nothing to everything…Do you sit in amazement? Do you praise God? Do you consider all He has set into motion, prepared in advance for you to accomplish and complete? Do you praise God for that too? He created so much including you and me. Let’s praise God today for all He has done and for the incredible creation we get to be a part of!
Yes things happened but God made plans that we can be restored to Him thru Jesus and forgiven for the sins of our lives! Yes in this world there are things that are taking place that aren’t as they should be but one day everything will be settled!
If we reflect on Jesus’ way to success then we may live out our lives differently:
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.26 News of this spread through all that region.
Jesus Heals the Blind and the Mute
27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
–from Matthew 9
We see thru God’s Word in today’s reading how Jesus redefines success. We need to review His vision, His life, and His teachings! Remember how God’s ways aren’t our ways? Remember how His ways are better and higher than our ways? Remember how we are to not lean on our own understanding but to put our hope and trust in God? As such how Jesus has defined success isn’t really how the world around us would define success!
Success doesn’t mean popularity! Looking at Jesus we find how some loved Him and other hated Him! In v33 above “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” but in v34 above “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” — not everyone had the same view of Jesus! Not everyone appreciated what He did and was doing and to this day continues to do! Similarly, if we think that success means popularity we may end up being in a shock or surprise!
Matthew shares what Jesus’ success looked like when we read:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
–from Matthew 9:35
Our church has a 3 fold mission which aligns to the above. We are to be an outreaching church, embracing church, and a discipling church.
Today’s devotional (Day 11 – Bible in One Year 2017) points us to what we need to do to succeed in following Jesus’ example:
The need is urgent
Jesus saw that ‘they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ (v.36). Today, we see millions who don’t know Jesus and are spiritually lost. In addition, we see millions who are starving, homeless, suffering from preventable diseases and without even the most basic education.
The motive is love
Jesus had compassion (v.36). This is the strongest word for love in the Greek language (derived from the Greek word for ‘guts’). It is used only of Jesus. It could be translated ‘he was gutted’ – his heart broke.
Jesus was unconcerned about worldly categories of importance or success. Here we see him helping two very different classes of people – an important ‘ruler’ (v.18) and a woman whose menstrual bleeding would have made her unclean and left her on the fringes of society (v.20). Yet Jesus had compassion on them both.
The trigger is prayer
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’ (v.38). Pray for more people to be raised up who will follow Jesus and reap the harvest.
The potential is vast
Jesus said, ‘The harvest is plentiful’ (v.37). Jesus has modelled what success looks like – proclaiming the kingdom and demonstrating its in-breaking into history. Now he calls you to follow his model – to share in his mission, multiplying its reach.
So let’s pray for wisdom! Let’s pray for guidance! Let’s pray for discernment! Let’s pray for direction! Let’s pursue God in all we do that in all our ways we acknowledge Him and He will make our path straight! So let’s pursue God and allow Him to help us to success by guiding our steps…Today’s devotional speaks to it this way…
Obviously, Abraham did not have the Scriptures that we have – but he did have the commands of God that later became part of the Scriptures. God commanded his people to only marry other believers in him. Abraham told his servant he must not get a wife for his son from the Canaanites, but from his own people (vv.3–4).
The Holy Spirit leads us as we pray. Although the words ‘Holy Spirit’ are not used in this passage, it is clear that all the participants are in a position to be guided by God, listening to him and being led by the Spirit. Abraham’s servant prayed from his heart (vv.12,45), Rebekah appeared ‘before he had finished praying’ (v.15), and when Rebekah appeared, Isaac was out in the field where he had gone to meditate (v.63).
The choice of Rebekah made sense. She was clearly someone who was appropriate for Isaac. It so happened that she was ‘very beautiful’ (v.16). She was also ‘a virgin; no man had ever lain with her’ (v.16). Most importantly, she was clearly generous, gracious and kind. Her immediate response to the request for water was not only to offer it, but also to say, ‘I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking’ (v.19).
Counsel of the Saints
One of the ways in which God guides us is through godly advice (‘saints’ is used here in the New Testament sense to describe all God’s people). Although Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was very different from the modern western marriage in that it involved a large element of arrangement, there was also an element of choice. Rebekah was asked, ‘“Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she replied’ (v.57). Isaac chose to marry her and ‘loved her’ (v.67). They were following the counsel of the saints in the sense that everyone around, especially their parents, recognised, ‘This is from the Lord’ (v.50).
This is one of the clearest cases in the Bible of God guiding through circumstantial signs. The servant asks for a sign and was given exactly what he asked for (vv.12–26). However, as we have seen, the sign was not random. It was a test of Rebekah’s character, which she fulfilled.