The Lord was with us this year in so many ways. I see the Lords hand in so many ways. When I think back on all we have been through this year it is amazing to think of the miles between the the many mountain tops and the valleys. We have been living simultaneously in both, which I didn’t know was possible. The Lord has been so good to us, and never left our side. I think of others that I read about in the Bible that have gone before me, and how the Lord alone sustained them. Looking back I see the Lords mighty hand. There are many scriptures that reference ‘being blessed in everything’, I realize that my great God blessed my family in everything we did this year. If you know me you might raise a brow, because it has been one of the toughest of my life. I have learned this year that Gods’ definition of blessed and success does not align with that of the worlds. I am blessed in so many ways, and the Lord has done great things.
The Lord talks about a man who is blessed in everything he does, being like a tree planted by streams of water in Psalms 1:3:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
The words “blessed in everything he does” and “whatever they do prospers” intrigue me. What does God define as being prosperous, blessed, and successful? It is clear man prospers because of actions. A man who prospers does not walk with the wicked or follow the past of sinners. The text says the Lord is with those who “delight in his law and meditate on his law day and night.” Proverbs says the “Fear Of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” David describes a prosperous man as one who obeys the Lord in Psalms 128:1-2:
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Prosperity and blessing go hand in hand with walking in obedience to God, meditating on his law day and night, and having a healthy fear the Lord. Prosperity equals obedience. It is not what the world defines as success, and I have to remind myself of this fact often.
The Lord was with Joseph after he was betrayed and sold into slavery. The text says he was successful in everything he did…I have asked myself what does this mean and how was he successful? When I think of adjectives for Joseph, or his life, success is not the first that comes to mind… I want to be successful in everything I do, but did I want to be like Joseph? As I embarked upon a journey over months of what the meaning of this phrase was, I found myself humbled by story after story in the text. Few experience what Joseph did, he was able to be what the Lord defined as successful in the midst of so many unthinkable circumstances. Just like Joseph I hope I am able to be as faithful as he was regardless of what is thrown at me in life. In Genesis 39:2-4 it says the Lord gave him success is everything he did:
The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
The book of Acts says that God rescued him from all his troubles in chapter 7:9-10:
Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
The rescue plan was that God was with him! God rescues him not from the situation, but gives him what he needs to endure the situation he is in…WOW. Many times this year I have prayed that God take away the situation of immense pain we have been dealing with…because that was my version of rescue. I have learned so much through studying Joseph’s life. My rescue plan was not that God would lift me out of the situation or make it go away, I would have given anything to click my heals like Dorothy and go back home, to wake up from he nightmare we found ourselves living. In the early months I learned quickly the situation was not disappearing. I changed my attitude to one of praise, because each day he gave me just enough, because that’s his promise. He gave me what I need to handle the situation…I am humbled, because as I cross referenced ‘success in everything he did’ I did not see a life defined by what I SO OFTEN define success as…my definition is the worlds, yuck. Success in everything I do comes from the tools God gives me to endure the good and the bad situations, not a life of only good circumstances. I know, that I know, that I know, he does not promise us a life free of suffering, but I just didn’t really even ever think about what Gods’ definition of success was…The majority of my life has been defined by some fluffy, happy, and worldly definition that is the worlds definition of success.
I studied Joshua and his story. I see in his story, that God was with him as Joshua 1:5 says:
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
The text is specific a few verses later in Joshua 1:7-9:
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua fought battles. Joshua made tough decisions. He sinned. He won and lost battles, yet the Lord says no one will be able to stand against him all his life. Why? It says in verse 15 ‘As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.’ Joshua showed this pattern of behavior in everything he did. When asked to march around a city to attain victory he was obedient, and walls of Jericho fell. Joshua listened, acted, and left nothing undone that the Lord commanded. He was successful because he was obedient to everything the Lord commanded. Am I obedient to everything the Lord commands? No. I try, but I am sinful, but God is with me every step of the way. It is His quiet strength that arises in me knowing he is always with me. It is his presence that allows me to persevere in times of loss, suffering, and sadness. This year God has enabled my family to be strong and courageous, not to fear, because he is with us, always with us. Joshua faced many battles…but he didn’t fear…He was obedient and his success was that God was always with him. God was with him. He was with him in his joy, loss, victory, sin, struggle, and disappointment, he was strong because God never left his side. Success is the Lords’ presence and promise to us, it is not winning every battle or a life without struggle.
Then there were the men of Judah, the Lord was with them. They were referenced in ‘the Lord made him successful in all he did,’ by the words ‘the Lord was with’ yet in Judges 1:19:
The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.
The part where it says ‘they were unable’ hits me, they were unable yet successful. It is not about us being able, it’s about God being able to do more than we can ask or imagine…Amen.
Then there was David. Gods beloved. 1 Samuel 18:14 says this about him:
In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.
His success was because the Lord was with him. He defeated a lion, a giant, an angry King…but he spent much of his life running; he murdered, he spent time hiding in caves, he was defeated yet hopeful, and even his wife made fun of him. David was successful in everything he did because he cared about God’s opinion of him, and not the worlds as it says in the text various times. In 1 Samuel 17:37 he leads with his mouth:
The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.
Faith is seen in every aspect of his life, and if it is possible as I read the text his entire life shouts ‘success.’ His words from 1 Samuel 17:37 echo throughout my mind as I make them my own, ‘the Lord rescued me from the pit of despair in the past, he will rescue me in this desert.’ It was by faith Davids declares victory before his battle, he declares victory before he acts and that’s success. When I declare victory over a situation, I have seen God breathe life into the unimaginable situations and bring abundant life to things I believed to be destroyed. As I have written about before, my son was dead in my arms, and my great God graciously through his great mercy brought him back to life. Not by my plan, will, or design, but his alone. David, my sons story wasn’t over yet, and by faith I declared Lord this is not your plan, it is your plan for life and life more abundantly. I fell to my knees in a sea of 10,000 people and screamed for mercy. I am confident the Lord heard, and by his divine nature allowed my son to live. Just about a week ago I was able to see my son baptized in the Jordon River, God is so faithful. Thank you Jesus for one of the greatest blessings I will ever see in my earthly life, the baptism of my child.
David also demonstrated boldly he was living for God alone. In 2 Samuel 6:14-15 we see the King of Israel dance through the street in his undergarments:
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
It then says his wife mocked him regarding his behavior and his response was this in 2 Samuel 6:21-22:
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
David realized God chose him, for this time and season. He realized all that mattered was pleasing the Lord. He danced with all his might for the Lord, and not for men, and that is success.
And then there was Hezekiah. He held fast to the Lord all his life by obeying the law God gave Moses. The Lord was with him as seen in 2 Kings 18:5-7:
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
He was successful because he was obedient holding fast to the Lord in everything. He kept his commands and even when others tried to influence him with other things he did not serve anyone but God. I ask myself what gods am I serving? The god of image, perfection, business?I will be successful through obedience to God alone.
Jehoshaphat was also successful in everything he did, the text says he was upheld because of his faith. It was by faith he gave the command to men go ahead of his army singing songs of praise before going into battle singing in 2 Chronicles 20:21b-22:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
The army of Jehoshaphat gave thanks first and by faith this army sang praises to Lord. So often have I been in a battle and forgot to lead with praise. The humble attitude of his heart before God directed him to lead with praise. The Lord defeated their enemies for them as they sang through their battle. This year I have tried to sing his praise through the valley. God is always good in the midst of trial. I realized his grace is more than I deserve, so I will sing his praises.
Then there is the example of the ultimate success, really Victory, of the one and only King Jesus’ life.
Success was death on a cross.
The perfect man, both God and man, his life and death, Gods’ only son lived a life that by the worlds terms was anything but successful, it ended in death. You see the world wanted a conquering Messiah, one the came in as the worlds definition of a King. They wanted, just as I want worldly success. God came into the world to save us, through his son, and his version of success is servant. Isaiah 52:13-15 says this:
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness — so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
We see through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven what Gods’ view of success is…1 John 5:3-5 says that success and victory is this for his followers:
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Success is knowing the end, I do. Do you? Do you really trust in our Savior. If you are a follower of Jesus, you know the end of the story. He is victorious, and because he is victorious, so am I, so are you.
I don’t know about you, but I want the Lord with me in everything I do. That is a high bar, but guess what? It’s not about me reaching it, it’s about allowing his power to work in me. The type of success that will define me is Gods’ definition of success. Being successful is this: knowing the Lord is with me in all situations and that he will give me what I need to handle whatever his plan; His plan for my life may be losing a series of battles, or every battle, but knowing he is with me in every battle; success is that I may in fact be unable, and it’s ok because He is able; success is dancing for the Lord like he is the only one in the room; success is following the Lord in all you do and obeying his commands; success is this singing and praising into and through my battles; success is declaring victory by faith knowing he will do it; success is prospering because you delight in his law and meditate on his law; success is fearing the Lord; and the last I studied (but there are so many more…) success is knowing and in living in the victory that has already been achieved for me…
Other SCRIPTURE USED
God is Able:
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.
Psalm 89:19-29 Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: “I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people. I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.
Speaking victory by faith: Joshua 1:15
until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”