We’ve just entered the year 2018. We all look forward to this year with the hope it’s going to be successful but what is the key to having a successful year? We all wish there was some kind of a success recipe… Well, there is one, but the recipe for success is not of human origin. We can find it in God’s infallible Word, the Bible. Let’s take a quick look.
We find the following divine stipulation in Joshua 1:8: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Historically, this recipe of success was given by God to Joshua but serves to benefit all those who seek YHWH, the God of Israel and the nations. It’s a very strong conditional promise. The Lord will make us successful, if we follow the Lord’s prescriptions found in Scripture.
A good place to start would be to define “success.” Our world measures success in terms of fame, the size of one’s wealth, place of residence, the range of influence, etc. God’s measure of success is different. In fact, Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) said to some first-century Jews: “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). So, for many, whose definition of success is dictated by the values of the world, this can be bad news… Yet that same premise found in Luke 16:15 should be seen as excellent news for others. This includes both Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in the Lord and measure their lives with His standard. It is written in Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.”
God’s vision of success centers around a humble heart where the Holy Spirit abides: “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy: I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15). The Lord might provide abundantly for our needs (e.g., Deuteronomy 28:11). At the same time, there might be physical, emotional, and spiritual trials, as well as financial challenges and all sorts of other burdens (cf. Job 1–2). There were those heroes of faith who were persecuted and suffered, yet, they were truly successful since their lives glorified their Heavenly Father and brought forth the fruit of love and truth. Just think of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Apostles, and the many others.
Yet on the other hand, let’s consider how the God of Israel disqualified the King Belshazzar, the Babylonian king who boasted of his success in the international political arena: “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 ‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 ‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:25–28). This passage describes an episode in Belshazzar’s palace where a divine hand wrote a bizarre inscription on the wall. Daniel was summoned to the king’s palace and interpreted the divine message as we read in Daniel 5:27: “You have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.” That’s quite a statement… Why was the king, in whose hand was the power and riches of Babylon, was found not successful but deficient on God’s scales? The answer is stated in Daniel 5:23: “But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.”
The presence of God’s glory brings the true success to our lives. That’s the reason Yeshua proclaimed in John 15:4-5: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
I would like to encourage all of us, friends, to hearken to God’s revelation preserved in the Bible, seek and treasure the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then, as promised in Scripture, we will be truly successful. Have a happy and successful 2018!