(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
There is an idea of success being bandied around in the world, where a person is considered to have ‘made it’ in life and to be ‘successful’, if he does well for himself financially, climbs that corporate ladder, has clout and influence, is popular, in the spotlight and considered to be somebody important by the masses. To get to this desired ‘place’, people are encouraged to never give up, to believe in themselves, to work hard, to take the plunge, take risks, fight with all that they’ve got and surround themselves with positive examples of people who have ‘made it’, so as to inspire themselves.
Yet, this is not what success is at all. There is an idea of success according to the world’s definition and standard (which is false) and there is good success, which is the real deal, as defined in the scriptures.
WHAT IS GOOD SUCCESS?
Good success, according to God’s standard is living a life according to His purposes, submitted to Him, obeying His Word the Bible, being beautifully protected by Him, provided for and reaping his blessings in whatever form he deems fit, whenever he sees fit. It is living a life that is not wasted and worthless because that life is in the hands of Jesus Christ, that person having surrendered it over to him completely.
Good success is being filled with the joy of the Lord which is our strength, so that come what may and despite what happens in this world, the joy that God gave, remains. Finally, good success is resting secure in the fact that although we don’t know what the future holds for us, we know the one who holds the future in HIS hands and in Him, we have peace, stability and security, having been assured by him that we have an eternal inheritance reserved for us in heaven.
Yes, the world’s definition of success and God’s definition of success are at variance with each other. They are polar opposites. Indeed, a person could be well-off financially, have a high-paying job or career, be at the top of the social and corporate ladder, popular, considered to be somebody important and with clout and influence and still be miserable inside. That person could seemingly have everything the world has to offer and that other people wished they could have and yet wake up each day depressed, unhappy, lost, overwhelmed by life’s problems, its seeming mundanity and life itself.
Believe it or not, it is possible to be rich and to be bored with those riches. It is possible to be loved by someone in a relationship and to still feel dissatisfied. It is possible to be at the very top of the corporate, political or social ladder and still be unhappy inside.
Indeed, this is why so many so-called celebrities have ended their lives. The world thought that they had everything and were living on cloud nine but inside, they were empty, hurting, feeling like colossal failures and resenting the futility of it all.
This comes as no surprise to those who know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. For, he and he alone, gives a peace which passes all understanding. Money can’t give it. A relationship can’t give it. Sex can’t give it. Religion can’t give it. A job can’t give it. Drugs and alcohol can’t give it. Nothing you could have in this world or ever attain to, could ever give this beautiful peace which God’s children enjoy and until and unless you get it, you will be miserable, discontented, unhappy, confused and feel an awful void in your life.
Today, I opened my Bible randomly to Psalm 91 (a chapter that was recently preached on by a brother in the Lord) and I found myself contemplating on Joshua 23, the subject of which had also been recently preached on in a sermon by another brother in the Lord.
I then asked myself the question: What advice would you give to someone (a believer), who wanted to know what to do, in order to live a meaningful, worthwhile, purpose-driven, rewarding, blessed and peaceful life here on earth? In short, what should such a person do in order to have good success?
Having considered it, this is what I would recommend to such a person and remind even my own self:
1. STICK to the Word of the Lord your God.
Do no depart from the book of the Word of God (the Bible) for anyone, irregardless of who, the age you live in, the practice of the current day or what people say.
When it came to the Israelites, Joshua, in some of his last words to the people, told them: “Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book...that ye turn not aside thereforefrom to the right hand or to the left.”
Proverbs 4:25-27 states:
- “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
The same is true of us today. We have the book of the Word of God called the Bible and we must make sure that, come what may, even if it makes us unpopular, disliked and out of odds with man, that we STICK to the teachings in this book and in particular, the New Testament commands known as the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
In this book is such wisdom, that it is able to make the simple wise. It gives excellent counsel and directs the Christian’s path into peace and righteousness.
In Psalm 19:7-14, the Psalmist boldly declared:
- “The law of the Lord is PERFECT, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is SURE, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are RIGHT, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is PURE, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is CLEAN, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are TRUE and RIGHTEOUS altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is GREAT REWARD.”
Indeed, it was because of the impeccable and infallible character of God’s Word, that Joshua initially told the Israelites in Joshua 1:8:
- “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to ALL that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have GOOD SUCCESS.“
2. CLEAVE unto the Lord your God.
In this world and especially today, everything is seemingly competing for your attention. When it is not your career, it is the internet. When it is not the internet, it is the television. When it is not the television, it is something else or somebody else.
Yet, despite whatever may have been around them at the time and calling out for their attention, time and focus, Joshua told the Israelites “But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done this day.”
The act of cleaving (also used in the Bible to refer to how a husband is to be with his wife once married), requires you to hold on for dear life, refusing to ever let go and with a firm and tight grasp.
To firmly grasp unto the Lord with a resolve not to ever let go, we need our two hands. We cannot therefore be holding on to anything else. The instruction is therefore a call to separate from the world, its ungodly practices, everything that displeases God, all forms idolatry, whether this be a man that is not God’s will for your life, a job that wants you to compromise, an opportunity to make money through unethical and non-biblical means and anything else that holds the potential to come between you and your God.
When cleaving to the Lord, your relationship with him becomes your chief concern. Everything else and everybody else, even your own boyfriend, fiance, spouse, family and friends, fade in comparison.
This is the extent to which we are called upon to hold on to our God. Not loosely or half-haphazardly but with all of our hearts, mind and soul, firmly.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus stated, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy mind.” This is what cleaving to God ought to look like.
It brings me to my third point.
3. LOVE the Lord your God.
This doesn’t mean to just say something with your lips or to claim you love on the surface, so that people think that you love but to truly love.
In fact, Joshua told the people, “Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God.”
Taking good heed means to be extra careful, deliberate and mindful of what you are doing.
This reminds me of Daniel. Irregardless of the fact that he was in a strange land with strange practices and that the king of Babylon had given a command that he and certain other Israelites should be fed with the king’s meat, the Bible states “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…” and he didn’t. He took heed to the allegiance and love that he had for God and so he determined within himself that he would not just go along with the flow.
The king’s meat is characteristic, in my view, of the world’s offerings and system. Like Daniel, Christians today need to take heed to stand against the tide of popular practice and opinion, where this goes against the Word of God, if they are to be faithful to their God.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego made a similar choice when king Nebuchadnezzar made a decree, that every man should fall down and worship the golden image that he had set up, whenever they heard the sound of certain types of musical instruments being played.
Taking heed to love their God, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that come what may, they could not and would not bow down to an idol because this would be sinful in the eyes of their God.
So firm was their resolve, that in refusing to do as everybody else around them seemed to be doing, so as to comply with the law of the king, their enemies complained to the king: “…these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:12).
In defying the king’s authority, so that they could obey the Lord’s, they were brought before the king and given another opportunity to abide by his decree or else be thrown into a very hot furnace. Yet, even if it meant losing their lives, those three young men maintained:
- “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will NOT serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.“
In taking their stand, they were thrown into the fire but were protected supernaturally by the Lord, so much so, that, having survived the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar, who witnessed it all, blessed their God, passed a new decree in their favour, concluded that there was no other God like their God who could deliver like he had done and promoted them.
What happened in Babylon with the king’s first decree and the stand that these three Hebrew boys took, reminds me of Isaiah 8:10-13, where the Prophet stated:
- “Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall NOT stand: for God is with us. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should NOT walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let HIM be your fear, and let HIM be your dread.”
Whether or not God will decide to deliver you when faced with trouble, you must make the deliberate decision that you are going to love the Lord and that he will have ALL of your allegiance, nobody else.
Being careful to love carries with it the idea, that you are paying careful attention so as to not be negligent or reckless in this very important matter. You are always on your guard and ever watchful, to ward off anything and anyone that might be trying to come to separate you from your Lord, whether they try to do so blatantly or subtly.
Today, that which comes to try to separate, takes all sorts of forms, some blatant but many subtle. It takes discernment given by God, to see traps for what they are (no matter how pleasantly laid) and to avoid them.
The Bible tells us that the devil goes around like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour and sometimes he does not come in the form of a loud, roaring lion but in the form of a saint.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 tells us:
- “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
We are therefore called upon, in taking heed to love our God, to be sober, vigilant and to resist the evil one, steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Taking heed to love your God means that you are continuously giving it proper thought and are resolved, that all of your actions should reflect the fact, that you have chosen to love God.
Make a deliberate, conscious decision that you are going to love the Lord at all costs. In Psalm 91:14, it reads “Because he hath SET his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.”
4. DWELL or abide with the Lord your God.
Don’t just be an occasional visitor but let where his presence is be your place of residence.
Psalm 91 states that “He that DWELLETH in the secret place of the most High, shall ABIDE under the shadow of the Almighty.”
When you dwell in the presence of the Lord and refuse to leave, this guarantees your protection. This place gives better security and safety than alarm systems ever could or a ten foot fence or a bad dog or even earthly bodyguards surrounding your property.
In this place, God protects you from evil and gives charge to his angels to keep thee in all thy ways. When you live in the presence of God therefore, this means that to get to you, your enemies, those who don’t like you and feel like they have a bone to pick with you, so to speak, have to get through God first and time and time again, as I’ve witnessed in my own life, they are guaranteed to fail.
Nothing can happen to you, unless God allows it for his own divine purposes and your spiritual good, for your dwelling is God’s dwelling. You are living where HE is.
This 24-7 divine security, unknown to the world, even keeps you from self-harm.
Psalm 91:9-12 states:
- “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy HABITATION; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy DWELLING. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
When you make the most High your HABITATION and are content to DWELL or LIVE in the secret place of his presence, come what may, you remain perfectly peaceful and can sleep without a worry in the world like Peter did in Acts 12, when he had been imprisoned and it was known that Herod planned to execute him the very next day.
Come what may, be it loss of a job, singleness, sickness, a pandemic, people not liking you, badmouthing you, insulting you, thinking the worst of you and wishing the worst for you, them pursuing hotly after you as commissioned by the devil, a pandemic, a storm, a hurricane, a flood or whatever, in the Lord’s presence, you can boldly say:
- “THOU ART MY HIDING PLACE; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 KJV)
- “For in the time of trouble HE shall hide me in HIS PAVILION: in the secret of HIS TABERNACLE shall HE hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5 KJV)
- “The floods have lifted, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is MIGHTIER than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalm 93:3-4 KJV)
- “The Lord sitteth UPON the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth KING for ever. The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with PEACE.”
(Written on 18th June, 2021)
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Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 23 – ‘Jesus – The Source Of Success’
- Note 30 – ‘The Price Tag Of Success’
- Note 130- ‘The Paradoxical Principles To Successful Living – God’s Manual’
- Note 142- ‘Are You Chasing After Success?’
Under ‘COURTING OR ENGAGED Daughters of God’:
- Note 6 – ‘Equation For Relationship Success’