Jesus Christ

Success

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So often we think of success in terms of attaining wealth, position and honors but what does it take to build a lifestyle of success that has a lasting effect on those around us and possibly the world? It is in how we choose to go about achieving the outcomes we desire.

King Solomon, arguably the most wise, successful and wealthiest man on earth, understood the importance of seeking wisdom from God in how to live a successful life.

“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiates 12:13)

Solomon understood that every deed of man would come under the scrutiny of God’s judgement, not that we should live in fear but that we would be encouraged to embrace the wisdom of God’s definition of successful living. That by choosing His ways over our ways and living our lives in fellowship with Him rather than away from Him, we would live a life of lasting honor and not one resulting in judgement.

“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7)

If we walk with God He promises to be a shield of sound wisdom in our lives that will protect us from straying from His best for our lives.

“Guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:8)

Your life may not appear all that successful at the moment but if you choose to trust in God, to live according to His ways, your life will be honored and the people around you will be blessed in ways that wealth and position can not, even though these may be a byproduct. God’s way of living is the most successful decision you will ever make. His way of living is purposeful and fulfilling, a faith journey of discovery that teaches us true success. Our greatest accomplishment and goal is to live a life with no secrets and no evil deeds that will bring us into judgement at the end. (Ecclesiates 12:14) This is successful living.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

 

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The Name

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There is power in a name based on what it represents. The name of God is no exception.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)

God declares that His name is established forever and so powerful that whatever we perceive to be the greatest enemy in our lives is weak before Him and will have to acknowledge the incomparable name of God.

His name is representative of all creation set in place by Him and yet He cares about and for all mankind.

“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Mankind is a picture of God’s loving-kindness and grace. He has crowned us with glory and honor and given us dominion over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet. (Psalm 8:5,6)

How then are we to live in such a way that honors this magnificent gift of dominion to rule and manage all that God has entrusted to us? We are to glorify His Name with the understanding that we have only what has been given to us to manage here on earth. To do this properly we must agree with God and His purpose for creating mankind. We must believe by faith in the name of His Son Jesus, the Savior of the world.

“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Magnifying the name of God happens when we fulfill His purpose for our lives. Are you living in the light and power of Your namesake? If not, choose today to live and walk in a manner worthy of your calling. (Ephesians 4:1)

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

 

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Pray About Everything

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Cultivating a lifestyle of prayer takes intentionality and an awareness that God is always with you. Jesus promised that He would be with those who would choose to follow Him.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

He also promised that if we pray in secret to guard against hypocrisy and insincere desires to be seen by others (pride) that He would reward us openly.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Growing up under the influence of my mom taught me how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer. In our large family it was hard to have a secret place to pray but I eventually noticed that she routinely rose early in the morning when the house was quiet or found a corner in the house very late in the night.

Her prayers were sometimes quiet and at times fervent and passionate, often with tears and always on her knees. It was as if the more she prayed the more she realized her need to pray. She came to know that God was with her.

As I began my young faith walk and would face difficulties of my own she began saying to me; “honey, pray about everything.” She knew that cultivating a prayer life was the greatest assurance of knowing God for myself and mom was right.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

 

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Joy is Strength

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Maintaining a lifestyle of joy can be difficult in our world today, let alone in our own back yard. With no lack of catastrophic events near and far that create stress, worry and fear, it seems that every dimension of our lives has the potential to rid us of joy. Yet, joy is connected to our strength to endure the trials of life.

“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Perspective can drive our joy thermometer. Who and what we choose to focus on will determine our outlook on life. John the Baptist was a man who seemed to keep his life in perfect focus on the mission he was born to fulfill. He no doubt encountered misunderstanding, mocking and difficult circumstances in relationships that had the potential to derail his desire to submit to God’s will and preparation for ministry. He was the prophet of the Most High, born to go before the Lord to prepare His ways. (Luke 1:76)

“Who are you…What do you say about yourself? He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:22-23)

His joy in the Lord became his strength. Rather than allowing the issues of life to harden his heart, distract him from fulfilling his purpose, he learned that by putting God first he could rely on God giving him the strength or the joy to finish his course well.

“Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30)

There is a joy that melts the hardness of the soul and it is found in Jesus. Trust Him to sustain you with His joy and He will be your strength.

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Believe God

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“Believe, believe, believe in Me, All your hearts desires be

Anchored in My Sovereignty, believe, believe, believe in Me.”

God has a plan for our lives that is offered to us through His patient, forgiving and gracious love. He gives us time to work out our lives according to our own wisdom and ways of doing life. He knows that eventually, after trial and failure, we will come to the end of our self-efforts. If we are fortunate enough to move through this phase of life, we will look back and realize that God was watching over us, protecting us during those years of futile self-efforts towards building a successful life. We will all conclude that there is no true wisdom but wisdom that comes from God.

“Where is the one who is wise?…Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?” (1Corinthians 1:20)

Discovering God’s plan begins with accepting our inability to know His will without believing in Christ, His Son and our Savior. Once we accept Christ we gain access to godly wisdom that will lead us into the fruitful life God has for us based on His Word, the Bible.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Don’t be like the foolish rich man (in the Book of Luke) who focused on storing up his earthly riches while neglecting the poverty of his soul. He perished in failing to live out his life according to the wisdom of God, his self-efforts came to nothing from an eternal perspective.

“That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)

Believe in God’s sovereign plan for your life. Humble yourself and get to know God through His Son and you will discover His eternal will for your life.

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly – and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

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Run Your Race Well

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Did you know that your perspective on how you view time can have a tremendous effect on how well you run your life’s race and the training required to finish well? For starters, we must embrace God’s perspective of time, He is not limited to our 24 hour days, seven-day weeks and 12 month years.

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2Peter 3:8)

Secondly, we must adopt the perspective of a soldier whose loyalty and commitment to serving a higher purpose embrace the suffering and focus required to endure and finish well by the grace provided by God through Christ Jesus.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2Timothy 2:3-4)

Third, we must learn the proper rules of running our race.

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2Timothy 2:5)

In order to compete according to the rules we must become a student of the bible in order to learn God’s rules of engagement and how to apply it to our daily run. As we get to know God, the more inclined we become to trust in His approach to running well the race set before us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep Your righteous rules.” (Psalm 119:105, 106)

When we decide to live by God’s word, He promises to watch over our lives forever.

“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121: 8)

Have you been running your race according to your rules or God’s rules? There was a group of Christians in the Bible that were reprimanded for not having grown in their faith-run as expected by their teacher. They had become dull of hearing and needed to be taught again the basic principles or rules of engagement according to God. They needed, once again, the milk of a child, not being able to digest the solid food for the mature in Christ. (Hebrews 5:11-13) These Christians were running their race according to their rules.

Those who run their race according to God’s rules will lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and run in such a way to endure to the finish line. They will not let distractions take them off course and are quick to bring their focus to the call of Jesus on their lives.

“and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

At the end of my life’s race I want to be able to say, like Paul the Apostle;

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2Timothy 4:7,8)

How about you? May you run God’s race for your life well.

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Ignoring God

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Ignoring God can become a way of life if we are not intentional about not allowing our daily responsibilities, desires to achieve success and seasons of hardships to blind us toward His desires and plan for our lives.

In the Book of Hosea, the people of Israel had slowly gravitated towards a lifestyle of ignoring God’s commandments. They had been repeatedly warned by God’s prophets to return to Him with all their heart in love and obedience to ensure a continuance of God’s blessing on their nation. They had begun to live as if they were the source of blessing and not God.

“Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built…Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.” (Hosea 10:1-2)

What altars or pillars has God been warning you about? Have you allowed other things or people to be placed higher in your life than God? Are you pursuing anything more than you are pursuing knowing the God who is the source of all blessings in your life?

“…but when they grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot Me.” (Hosea 13:6)

Because God continued to bless them for a long time during this warning season, they presumed upon His grace and continued in a life of sin, they were prideful and unrepentant. They did not understand the consequences of willful disobedience that hardens the heart toward God and His commandments. Like most of us who outwardly continue to practice christianity, God knows that inwardly we have turned from our devotion to Him when we begin to rely on our works to stay in His favor. Abusing His grace over a long period of time actually sets us up to move from enjoying the mercy of God to entering His judgement for our sin.

“…Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins; they shall return to Egypt. For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; so I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour her strongholds.” (Hosea 8:13-14)

We are the beloved children of God and His desire is that we would love Him and desire to know Him intimately from the heart. But if we choose to ignore His warnings, know that He loves us too much to leave us in a state of unrepentance. He will judge our sin in order to heal us and raise us up again to His glory and honor.

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up…He will revive us…He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” (Hosea 14:9)

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