What definition of Success are you operating under?

This Spring and Summer I have concentrated my Bible study time upon striving for a good cohesive and comprehensive grasp of the Old Testament portion of the Bible.  Being that we live in the church age, I think the tendency in much of the church’s teaching and preaching is to focus more on the New Testament.  The Old Testament is a goldmine that covers a lot of ground!  It’s a lot of history.  As someone who has been  following Christ for some time now, I found this expedition back through the Old Testament to be a wonderful refresher course in just how rotten our human nature is, and a great reminder of just how good the good news of the Gospel in the New Testament really is.  In a way, it’s been sort of like those marriage seminars where they teach that the best way to rekindle the romance in your marriage, is to look back and recall what it was about your spouse that made you fall in love with them to begin with.

The Prophet Jeremiah (source)

I just finished my study of the book of Jeremiah.  And the most striking impression I came away with is the fact that our idea of success, not only the worlds idea, but the Christian’s idea, rarely- if- ever, lines up with what God considers success.

The book of Jeremiah is a great lesson in how God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  It reminds us the extent and fullness both His Holy and justified wrath, and of His unfathomable love to the end.  It is a book for that time, and also more relevent today than ever before, for nations and individuals to heed.

Jeremiah comes on the Biblical scene around 627 BC when he is called by God to be the final  warning voice to wayward Judah.  Jeremiah 1:4-5 tells us that while Jeremiah was yet in the womb, God sanctified and called him to the prophetic ministry, and he was faithful to that call until his death sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.  His ministry occurred approximately a hundred years after that of Isaiah.  In all of his many years of pleading and warning, he was ignored, ridiculed, tormented, and finally killed.  His record as a prophet would probably be judged, from a human standpoint, to be abysmal.  After all, the scriptures do not indicate a single soul that was saved, nor of anyone at all who heeded or obeyed Jeremiah’s warnings from God.   And yet Jeremiah wept over the apostacy and rebellion in Judah, wept for the tragedy that would befall, and never wavered or faltered in his message ’til the day that he died.  (Tradition says he was stoned to death).

Today, the record of Jeremiah’s warnings have been continuously sounding for a couple thousand years, contained in the Holy Scriptures.  Jeremiah’s success is not measured by God in terms of outcome, but of Jeremiah’s obedience and faithfulness to Him.

How successful are you and I, by God’s measure?

He has given us His Word to help ensure that success-in-Him.  Biblical Prophecy, when you think about it, is pretty amazing.  I mean, think of that one person in your life who invariably and consistently disappoints and hurts you.  Can’t you pretty much always “predict” how they will behave under most given circumstances? Because you have learned their nature the hard way.  Prophecy is merely an omniscient God, Who knows the nature of His children, telling you and me right out front, where we will go wrong, and giving us every opportunity to choose better.  But do we?  How often have you thought or said “if I only had the benefit of knowing then, what I know now, I would have done things differently”?  If we study His Word, we can have that sort of advantage.

If you want the kind of success in life that really counts, listen to old Jeremiah and “ask for the old paths, and walk thee therein”.  Jeremiah 6:16


I recommend Pastor and Mrs. Hestor’s wonderful and affordable program of study of Bible History for anyone who enjoys delving deeper in the scriptures.  For more information on the study courses “Old Testament Bible History” and “New Testament Bible History” with workbooks and DVD lecture series, by Pastor H. Richard Hester, click HERE  It is thorough, yet easy for the layman to understand, and available for individual (audited) study, as well as for college credit in a facilitated group setting.

Missionaries Richard and Kathleen Hester served the Lord in Lebanon from 1959-1976, at which time (during the Lebanon War) the Lord called them to serve in Sydney, Australia, where, as octogenarians and despite challenges of health, they still faithfully serve Him today.


One thought on “What definition of Success are you operating under?

  1. Hello Sandy,
    I discovered your blog a little while ago. I enjoy it very much, the info as much as your own commentaries on the happenings of this crazy world. I love the OT and Jeremiah in particular. One thing that keeps setting me straight since I am a born joker and teaser is the verse that says; If you repent I will restore you that you may serve me, If you utter worthy not worthless words you will be my spokesman, I need that rebuke when I get out of line with my crazy humor and tend to go overboard. Thank you for takig time and share your blog with us. I too am retired and enjoy very much writing. Come and visit if you like: http://thelightseed.blogspot.com
    Just for a sample, here is a post that I wrote a while ago touching on the subject you mentioned.
    Grace and peace in Jesus.

    How do we measure success?

    “An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by fullness, not by reception.” Harold Loukes.

    Have you ever felt a little sad or ignored when your hard work for the Lord was not producing fruit that was tangible in the lives of people you serve? Have you wondered if there was something wrong in your methods or even that the Lord wasn´t blessing your efforts and doubted that you were in His will? Have you felt discouraged by the apparent failure of your ministry?

    Or your self-inflicted criticism could turn into an understandable self-justification into accepting a self-imposed defeat and throwing down the gloves. After all the Lord hasn´t blessed me with the gift of evangelism, you might argue. Look at all the successful ministries with crowds waiting in lines to participate in the latest humancrowd baiting nets operations.

    Not all fishermen are in the fishing business with huge nets and fleets of boats to carry all the catch and they might not start with the initial call, blessings of God and end up with the final rewards for faithful service.

    But wait a minute, what about me? All I have is two hands, one mouth and the word of God to help me. My friend, you have all you need to be maybe not an apparently successful captain of a fishing boat fleet, but a faithful angler because God has called you to cast your bread on the waters and not worry about the size of the catch.

    Conversely, you might be gifted by the Lord to feed the fish instead of catching it. We are not in the business of killing the fish. The fish is already dead. Sure, physically, it jumps, swims, eats and reproduces just any normal fish. So why are we surprised when the fish escapes the hook and swims away?

    Do we think the hook is as important as the bait? Are we sorry that the fish got away? Maybe we have it backward in our attempts to draw people to Jesus.
    We should rejoice when the fish gets away with the bait, the word of God, the real food that will one day give them life and imperceptibly but surely help them to get closer to the day when the word of God will produce its work of new birth and eternal salvation. Then, they will grow bigger and stronger and reproduce.

    Paul in I Corinthians said that one plants the seed, another waters it according to the task assigned by God. “Neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor”. I Cor 3:7-9.
    To go back to the initial quote above, if your service to God and your fellow human is an act of love accomplished in faith and obedience to our Lord Jesus it might seem to you as a failure because of the seeming lack of immediate results, it might be that the person that was the object of your love didn´t receive it, but that doesn´t take away your unwavering commitment and your acting in faith and love. It just might be a matter of time. Sooner or later, up or down the stream of life, another angler will build on your faithful work and bring the fish home hopefully without the wounds of unscrupulous fishermen using false bait and using big hooks and harpoons that hurt the fish.

    Take the example of the great missionary to India, William Carey whose biography I recommend reading: “ after seven years of tireless toil in India Carey still did not have a single convert!” However he trusted in the Word of God for his life and he quotes it in the text of a historic sermon in Isaiah 54:2-3: “Enlarge the place of your tent and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings. Do not spare, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes! For you shall expand to the right and to the left and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make desolate cities inhabited.” And this is exactly what he did.

    Paul, Apollos, all the disciples and great men of God throughout history can be used as good examples to emulate (see the list in hall of faith in Hebrew 11).
    However the best example of somebody who acted with the highest disinterested kind of love who could have been seen as a failure was our Lord Jesus-Christ. He spent the 33 years of his short life been rejected, he was not attractive or beautiful in his human form, had nothing that would make man desire him, a man full of sorrow, despised. Talk about a failure in the eyes of the unbelieving world. He was oppressed, afflicted, and didn´t complain. He was betrayed, died through the false testimony of lying witnesses. He dies the death of the worst criminals. And he did it for the love of his Father and love for you and me. He labored and was faithful even to his death but not in vain, because look at what beautiful inheritance — salvation from eternal death and the promise of the Spirit and eternal life with him — he won for the millions of believers who trust in him. This is the great victory brought by his sacrifice on the cross.

    If you trust him with your life he can turn your apparent failures into victories. Don´t look at instant results judging your performance by the way people react to your sharing the truth with others. “Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. I Timothy 4:15,16.
    God is a good and tender loving Father who likes to reward his faithful and obedient children with surprises big and small in answer to our prayers.

    This is what the Word says concerning fullness, love, faith and works. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (Col 1:19); For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given this fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Col 2:9, 10.
    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Gal. 5:6.
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.. It is the Lord Christ whom you are serving. Colossians 3:23.


    Read more: http://thelightseed.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-do-we-measure-success.html#ixzz23dFwCy23


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