“If you develop the habits of success, you will make success a habit.”
Today’s fortune cookie sounds like it came from a best-selling self-help book. I am a big fan of building positive habits in life, habits that benefit my well-being physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. I have seen that good habits brings rewards.
I still remember when I was in college, one of my professors wanted us to ask people the definition of success. The question surely points to what a person values in life—what matters most. The Bible tells us that if we follow God, if we take the path less traveled, that we will succeed in everything. This sounds crazy. Now hear me out—this is not prosperity gospel.
Pay attention here—you follow God, and you slowly come to realize God’s plans for your life and your perspective changes. The success is different; your definition of success changes. It no longer comes down to the car you drive and the money in the bank; you want to live for Jesus and glorify God. Through the Spirit’s leading and your local church, you begin to develop habits of a follower of Jesus. You pray, you serve, you study the Bible, you worship, you tithe, you hear the Word preached, etc. As you grow in your relationship with God, as you draw near to Him, the fruit appears. Good things do happen, just as you also deal with struggles to strengthen your faith. Success becomes more about living in the presence of God, and your purpose you live out for His glory. This is the true success, and this brings true satisfaction to the child of God.
“Fulfill your duty to the LORD your God. Obey his directions, laws, commands, rules, and written instructions as they are recorded in Moses’ Teachings. Then you’ll succeed in everything you do wherever you may go.” – 1 Kings 2:3 [GW]
We all like to understand things. Some of us like to understand more than others. I remember when I was young and would take apart our VCR (remember that?) and see if I could put it back together. I learned how the VCR worked so well I was able to fix ours from time to time.
When it comes to life, we are to walk by faith. This means that we won’t always know what is going to come our way. We may not even understand some of it. But even so, we are supposed to press onward in faith. As today’s verse says, “The LORD directs our steps.” Since He directs our steps, there’s no reason to understand everything. We don’t need all of the whys because we know the Who and we can trust the Who, knowing that all the whys are for our best.
Today, understand that no matter how many times you dig into the Word, you won’t have all of the answers. But it’s okay! You may not understand everything along the way, but you will be walking with Him through it all. That’s so much better.
“The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” – Proverbs 20:24 [NLT]
I am not good with directions, hence the reason I love my GPS. Even so, I had to learn some shortcuts for my recent driving. I did this all without the GPS. I stepped out and left the old, familiar traveled roads. It was all about time management. Remember Psalm 90:12. If I spent too much time driving, other things would get neglected, plus my kids would not be happy if I was late.
Taking an adventure on these new paths has been a blessing. I did not feel rushed and I had extra time for much needed things. I was so glad that I did not settle for the old way. This reminded me of the direction of God. Often we like to return to the same old paths, but God doesn’t want us to return to the past. We aren’t meant to return to the old paths. He is doing a new thing. We need to continue along with Him forward, not turning back to where we once were.
Remember, God is pruning you and growing you. The place you were at, you needed to get through. But that doesn’t mean you are to return. Things are different. You have changed. God has a new path for you to travel. After you travel that path, there will be another season, followed by another. God will continue to do a new thing in your life so you can be made into the image of Jesus Christ. Staying on the same old roads will never get you there. Being comfortable does not happen in a life with Jesus. We do not stay in the familiar; we walk into the unknown. Continue to press forward where God leads, moving forward in faith.
Read Ephesians 4:17-24.
I love having the luxury of a GPS. I do not know how I would cope without having this driving assistance for great distances and unfamiliar roads. The machine tells me the best path to take, the shortest path, the path without tolls. I love all of that information at my fingertips.
In Psalm 25, the Psalmist asks that God show him the right path, the road to follow. To think that we actually have a GPS for our life. It’s amazing! God can show us the right path. We don’t have to wander around wondering if we are on the right road. We don’t have to question if there is a better path. We don’t have to seek out for ourselves the path that would be best. We can trust He knows the right path.
Today, ask God to reveal to you the right path. Ask Him to continue to open your eyes to the road to follow. His path is the narrow path. It is the path least traveled. But trust that He is with you every step of the way.
“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.” – Psalm 25:4 [NLT]
We recently did a Bible study where the term “stiff necked” came up. Many people asked what does it mean to be “stiff necked”? Jokingly, I told them I am stiff necked, hence the reason I see a chiropractor. The truth is, yes, I have a stiff neck that needed extensive therapy. My lower back and my neck were the worst. But I am also stiff necked in the biblical sense of the term.
So what does this actually mean? If we would know about oxen and plowing, we would have a better understanding. When a fellow was working the plow, he would have his oxen in order, and he would use one hand on the plow and the other holding a large pole. Usually there would be two oxen together. The man who was working the field, would use the pole to touch the back of the feet of the oxen, or to touch the necks of the oxen. They did these things so that the oxen would know when to change speed, when to go straight, and when to turn. There were some stubborn oxen who didn’t like to listen. When they would have their necks poked, they would not move as ordered. They were known as hard of neck or “stiff necked.”
I admit I am stiff necked. There are times when I don’t want to move when God gives me a poke. There are moments when I chose to try to control a situation instead of giving it to God. There are times when I am supposed to turn, but I go on a different way. Today, ask God to reveal to you any areas in your life that may cause you to earn the name “stiff necked.” Chances are, like me, you are stiff necked. Don’t worry—we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully Jesus Christ has made a way so that we can find forgiveness despite our stiff necked issues.
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” – Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]
“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. – 2 Chronicles 30:8 [ESV]
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]