“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]
The book of Jonah reminds us that God is in control. Even though it was obvious that the Ninevites were off course, and it was clear that Jonah had some issues against following God’s command to share His message with the Ninevites, God knew just what was needed. He knew that the Ninevites were open to hearing His truth, and He also was prepared to pour out some grace upon His not-so-compliant prophet too.
The word “wayman” means appointed or prepared. In the book of Jonah, we read that God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah after he was tossed overboard. At first glance, it seems as if this big fish was a punishment, but in fact, it was a picture of the awesome grace of God. Without the fish, Jonah would have most likely succumbed to the stormy waters. Instead, he was safe inside the great fish, and able to enjoy some quiet time with God alone.
Later we read in Jonah 4 of more appointments. God appointed a plant to grow to provide shade. God appointed a worm to eat the plant. God appointed wind to provide more heat. Again and again, we read of God’s preparation—of His appointments. Now don’t misread the situation—not everything that happens is not some pivotal part in God’s grand plan. Some situations and circumstances are not meant to be signs or tests. However, God does ordain each one of your days. God does promise that everything will be used for His good purpose. God is in control today, tomorrow, and forever. He reigns! No matter what you are dealing with today, remember Who is above all. Remember your Father and trust in His Word. His Word never fails. Today, thank Him for His goodness, His faithfulness, and His great plan.
“And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1:17 [ESV]
“Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’” – Jonah 4:6-8 [ESV]
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16 [NASB]
As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.
Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.
We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
My son is quite the tea tosser. What is a tea tosser? One who tosses tea! I am a coffee drinker, but even more so, I am a bigger tea drinker. One of my mugs is black so it is not as easy to distinguish if the mug is completely empty when the beverage is closer to the bottom of the mug. When my son had seen my mug sitting on the counter top and it appeared to be empty, he thought he would be funny. He grabbed the mug and attempted to juggle it around. Needless to say, he dumped my tea all over the place. We had a good laugh. He truly thought the mug was empty. The joke was on him, as was the tea!
Many times, things are not like they appear. We look at the outside of a person, but we do not see the heart. We see outward actions, but we do not know the inward motives. The Lord looks at our heart. No matter how hard we try to disguise ourselves, how much we pretend to be something we are not, God sees. He knows how much tea is in the mug, and He knows how pure and how deceitful is the condition of your heart.
The Bible tells us that the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is clear our hearts are in need of some deep cleansing. Thank God, He has the perfect cleaner to get that accomplished (Titus 3:5). Our heart is purified by faith and cleansed by the Spirit (Acts 15:9). Ask the Lord today, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV).
If you want to grow strong, you have to put forth effort. Getting stronger muscles requires lifting weights and strength training. You do not one day just wake up and say, “Be strong.” When it comes to life with Jesus, our faith walk requires a work out too.
“Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV). As you continue to follow Jesus, walking in faith even when you cannot see ahead, your roots will grow deep. Your life will start being built on Him. “Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Today, do a strength check. Have you been working out your faith muscles or are you resting in the comfort zone? Are you walking with Jesus or have you been idling? If someone would check, would your roots be deep or could you be yanked out of the ground by a small breeze?
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 [NLT]
We spend a lot of money and time trying to gain knowledge and understanding. Some of us have huge student loan debts. Some of us have shelves or tablets filled with books. I know many people who have numerous degrees in various fields. I am very thankful for my college education, and I learned a lot; however, the granter of wisdom is the Lord. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Many people spend a lifetime trying to understand life, not realizing that the LORD grants wisdom—knowledge and understanding come from His mouth! Some people dig deep into books and learn so much, yet they deny our Father. They can speak volumes of facts, but do not know the Source of all wisdom. As a result, they do not know the truth. They miss the greater revelation of Christ Jesus. It’s sad.
Today, spend some time with He Who grants wisdom. Dig into the Word. Seek His wisdom. Pray for wisdom. Ask for Him to reveal His truth to you. Ask for knowledge and understanding. He is the wisdom granter.
“For the LORD grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6 [NLT]
Often we think that we are doing everything alone. We forget Who is with us. Today’s verse is an assurance of a victory. God would cross over ahead. God would subdue them. God had a great plan and He would do just as He promised. We only had to recognize.
Recognize today that the Lord your God is with you. Recognize today that His promises are true. Recognize today that He is a devouring fire. Recognize today that you are not in this alone. He is with you. He is for you. May He make His presence known to you in a new and intimate way.
“But recognize today that the LORD your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the LORD has promised.” – Deuteronomy 9:3 [NLT]
When we are blessed, it is sometimes hard to remember the Source of the blessing. The Bible tells us, “When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God.” We are reminded to be careful. It is so easy while we are in our time of “plenty” that we “forget the LORD… God and disobey His commands, regulations, and decrees.”
Today, aim to get into the habit of praising God. Continue to seek out opportunities to praise Him. As you give Him the honor and praise He deserves, you will continue to remind yourself of your dependence on Him. You will remember the Source of everything and develop an attitude of gratitude.
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey His commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 8:7-14 [NLT]