This month's blog follows the theme of "Living" God's way as outlined in His Word; last month I looked at "Living Free" and the blog post before that was "Living Surrendered". Today, my focus will be on success and what it means to live successfully- God's way.
I'd like to begin by highlighting how the world defines success.
We are bombarded with the notion that a successful person is rich, of influence and prominence in society, has the perfect job (whatever that is), lives in a suburb deemed as affluent, in a dwelling straight out of a magazine, has every mod-con considered necessary by tech. giants, wears top designer labelled apparel, is highly popular with countless friends and followers and is the envy of every average Joe. The list used to include having a successful marriage and near perfect children although we see many a 'successful' person by today's standards moving from relationship to relationship and that 'requirement' is no longer being considered as important to the ignorant observer these days.
But... How does God define success? Can a Christian be successful in this life? If so, what are God's requirements for living successfully?
As the above pictured scripture states, God told Joshua, at the time he had taken over from Moses as the new leader of the Israelites..
"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 then you will have good success.." (Josh. 1:8 NKJV)
Moses had the same said to him from the Lord.
"Therefore, you shall lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul, bind them as a sign on your hand.. you shall teach them to your children.. that your days may be multiplied..." (Deut. 11:18-20NKJV)
"..If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully His commandments...Your God will set you high over all the nations of the world. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God..." (Deut. 28:1-3NJKV- read the rest of the chapter to see the specific blessings as the result of obedience)
The scriptures I've cited are clear. (There are many more like it) A successful Christian is an obedient Christian who treasures God's words, observes all that He says and does so every morning and night.
1. Success means making the study of God's word a constant part of your life. Unfortunately many who call themselves Christians never read the Bible, a significant minority never pray and never go to church either. I read a story that illustrates this point well:
Imagine going to your doctor when you're sick and getting a prescription that can make you well. But you only take it once a month or when you feel like it. Would you blame the doctor for not getting well? Some of us do that with God. We ask 'Why Lord?' Would you say the medicine doesn't work? Not if you don't take it. The same is true with God. We expect Him to allow us to go wherever we want, damage ourselves and others with selfish and godless decisions, ignore what His Word says- and then expect Him to rescue us, only to repeat the cycle again and again.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge"( Hosea 4:6 KJV)
So.. get into His Word and let His Word get into you.
2. Success means to meditate on God's word- daily. The true definition of meditation was the Lord's idea and it is to 'ponder, ruminate, examine attentively.' We are not only to read the scriptures but to digest them. Like the Psalmist, we are to pray,
"Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your instructions" (Psalm 119:18NLT)
Meditating on the scriptures trains us to see things from God's perspective and not our own viewpoint or what the world tries to tell us.
3. Success means to live out the Word of God as seen in the scriptures. This is where obedience comes in and is the ultimate test of a successful person in the Lord's eyes.
Successful life=Obedient Life
Finding true success in life is found in obeying God.
Look at the prophet Jeremiah. (I've written blogs on him in the past and they have been well read by those who visit my website and read my blogs)
By the world's standard of success, he would have been deemed a failure. For the 40+ years of his prophetic ministry, he cried out the same message and received the same result- next to no-one listened to him or heeded the words God gave him to say. But he still obeyed God's call. And that was all that mattered to Jeremiah. He was a success in the Lord's eyes as a result of his obedience, not as a result of anything else. He wasn't popular (true prophets never are), he owned little (although at God's command, he purchased a field), he was badly mistreated and misunderstood. But consider how significant and impactful his life and the books of the Bible he 'authored' continues to have on Christendom to this day. And when Jeremiah went to heaven following his death, there is no doubt in my mind he would have heard the Lord say to him face to face..
"Well done, good and faithful servant.."
A Christian can be rich, have friends, a great job, a lovely home, etc. But is doesn't mean they are a success. God is not overly interested in such things. But it is abundantly clear that God is interested in obedience. He actually demands obedience. An obedient Christian is a successful one. And God's blessings will flow (just as He promised) when we choose to live an obedient life.
It's important to remember what true success looks like while walking this life on earth- especially for those who've been hoodwinked into believing the world's definition.
Take heart and be encouraged. A successful life is an obedient one!