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The Heart of Success

After God's Own Heart Part 3

After months of being out from this blog, I’ll continue on the series I began five months ago. This time we will be talking about success.

The reason I’ll be talking about success today is because we are in the season when many young people are entering into the new chapter of their life, the chapter of chasing after success. This month is Graduation month in the Philippines.

Many people are spending much of their lifetime chasing after success. And success by the world’s definition is having much money, becoming famous, having good connections, insured life, insured car, insured body parts, etc. This problem has even infected many Christians. Charles Spurgeon once said: “One reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.”

If we look at the lifestyle of the world and compare it to how “Christians” act today, we can seldom see a difference. We spend money as much as the worldly people spend. We look at the same entertainment the world is enjoying. We spend as much time as unbelievers watching materialistic and morally polluted programs in the television and in the movies. We download the same apps. We play the same games. We spend more time in the pleasures of this world than in the presence of God. We even allow the world to control our life by chasing after success according to the expectations of the world and not of God.

I’m not saying that striving to become successful is wrong. What I’m saying is becoming successful in the temporary things is stupid. Remember Jesus’ parable about the rich man who thought that he has everything he needed (Luke 12:20). God said to him: “You fool! Don’t you know that tonight you will die? Who’s going to take care of what you’ve earned?” What good is a man even when he gains the world yet forfeits his soul?

A Look At David’s Success

Wordly Success1 Samuel 18 talks about David’s rise in favor of the Israelites. It follows right after David defeated the giant Goliath. We will be looking on David’s life with two scopes. The first view is the outward look at David’s success:

1. He has friends (18:1-4; 6; 16). – Not just ordinary friends, he is the prince’s friend, king’s friend, women’s friend, and people’s friend. Who would not like to be friends of everybody?

2. He has fame (18:6-7; 16; 30) – David became very known to all the people of Israel. They made songs for him. He was even more famous than the king! Imagine yourself like him. Imagine it when people make a song about you.

3. He has family (18:18; 20; 27-29) – Not just an ordinary family but a royal family! If David is alive today, we can liken him to someone like Kate Middleton. Imagine yourself marrying a president’s daughter. That’s success!

4. He has fortune (18:4-5; 27). – He was given gifts. He has men with him.

5. He has a good future (18:27; 30). – He was given an important job. He would be the king’s son-in-law.

These five things—friends, fame, family, fortune, and future—are what the people of this world is chasing after. David had them. But are they the measure of his success? Are these things the only evidence of David’s success? I’ll give you a hint: in the next chapters, these things were taken away from David!

Not let’s have an inward look at David’s success.

The word “success” or “successful” or “prosper” in Hebrew is “SAKAL” (saw-kal). It appears three to four times in this chapter: 18:5; 18:14; 18:15; 18:30. The use of this word is very interesting. The word “success” in the Hebrew, particularly in this chapter means “act wisely” or “behaved wisely.” That is why, to some of the Bible versions, it says there “behaved wisely” or “act wisely” or “skillfully” (e.g. NKJV). Verse 14 tells us how David was this successful/prosperous/wise/skillful: “The LORD was with him.”

So What Now?

The first lesson is this: Success always involves character! And character comes because of God’s abiding presence. Read verse 14. David was successful or behaved wisely because the “Lord was with him.”

If you want to be successful in life take this: Be successful in character! You may not have all the things in the world but if you have character, the character based on God’s standard, you are more successful than any other people. The greatest obstacle to success is your own self. And the greatest obstacle to enjoying God’s presence is you. No wonder David, in the height of his success, was able to humble himself. He was able because he is after God’s own heart.

Interestingly, the English word “success” comes from the Latin which means “come after.” Success “comes after” following God’s own heart.

The Mark of True SuccessSecondly, success is not measured by our ability but by how we act wisely! Remember what made David this successful. What made him prosper, act wisely, behave wisely, or skillfully? Look at verse 14 again: “And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him.” This gives us the main principle: Success is not measured by gold, glory, or girl’s presence but by God’s presence. It is not about the pleasures of the world, but about the presence of God in our lives.

We must remember that worldly pleasures and success is always a struggle. It is always what the enemy is throwing at us. Remember Jesus’ temptation, it is the same thing that Satan throws at him: “Just worship me and all the kingdoms and riches of the world will be given to you,” says Satan.

But our response should be like that of Apostle Paul’s:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.     Philippians 3:8-11 (ESV)

 

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in After God's Own Heart, Series, Sermons

 

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I Have Decided

One failure of the church in this modern time is making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Follow Up

Who are you following?

This is the thought that has run in my mind these past few days. It is not a statement borne out of ignorance. It is clear in churches today. Many are the people who claim to have followed Christ but few are those who really committed their life to become like Him in character and even in His suffering.

David Platt once preached about Matthew 4:17-22. I learned from him the three categories of disciples in the Bible: There’s the casual disciple, majority of the people who followed Jesus and listened to His teachings fall on this category. They are the people who happened to just like Jesus and His lessons but never really digging into them. Then comes the convinced disciples. These are people who like His teachings, convinced about them and wanted to know more. But when Jesus began teaching the things that are hard to swallow, they stopped on their tracks, not really wanting to do every thing Jesus’ commanded. Lastly, there’s the committed disciple. Few belong to this category. They are people who were with the Lord wherever He went. They followed Him all the way to His arrest and after His resurrection, went on to die in spreading His message. Which of the categories do you belong?

Taking Matthew 4:17-22, Luke 5:1-11, and David Platt’s sermon, I learned the following principles:

A committed disciple of Jesus Christ lives a life of repentance. Before Jesus went on to call the first four of His disciples, He was preaching about repentance in the countryside and the villages. No once can be a serious disciple of Jesus Christ without repenting of his sins. Repentance is not a mere change of mind, it involves a change of the whole heart and actions. It is not just a one time event; it involves a lifetime of transforming the mind and heart and actions.

Sadly, what is happening in churches today is the devaluing of repentance. We have put so much emphasis on having a peaceful relationship with God and forgot that to have that relationship, we must have a change of heart first. Having a new relationship with God is essential but we must have a new relationship with sin as well.

Secondly, a committed disciple lives a life of radical obedience. Peter, Andrew, James and John were busy when Jesus called them. Yet, they “immediately” left what they were doing to follow Him. Is “busyness” your excuse not to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly? These fishermen were doing their job for a living yet they were willing to leave it all behind to become fishers of men. James and John even left their father alone to finish their work. Radical obedience is taking Jesus worthier than time with our friends, our comfort, or even the regard of our families.

Lastly, I learned that a committed disciple lives a life of resolute dependence. Wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ depend their life on the Lord’s grace alone. The command “Follow me” is an invitation to trust what Jesus can do. It is trusting Him and having His own way in us even if we think we are experts on what we do. It is trusting that only God can “make us fishers of men.” When Jesus called His disciples, He did not ask them to bring their diplomas, titles, medals, trophies, hidden talents, etc. with them. He just called them to follow Him and trust that out of these lowly Galileans, He would bring out people who would turn the world upside down.

I think the church should begin making committed disciples now and stop settling for casual converts. If you are a part in the body of the Jesus Christ’s church and wants the Great Commission obeyed in your local church, making disciples starts with you becoming a committed follower of Jesus Christ. However, do consider the cost. Don’t be like a man who started building a tower and failing to finish it because he ran out of budget.

The challenges of being a committed disciple: living a life of repentance and forsaking the pleasures of any sin; living a life of radical obedience and forsaking my comfort and even my family’s respect; living a life of resolute dependence on Jesus Christ and forsaking my “self-sufficiency.”

Have you decided?

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Sermons

 

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Wrap Up 3: All About Worship

ImageThoughts Art Ransomed (TAR) are random reflections I regularly post on Facebook. They are thoughts from my personal meditation of God’s word, songs, and statements I find from friends and other sources. This week’s series is all worship.

#TARSeries 015: Just because the Lord Jesus Christ freed me from the slavery of sin doesn’t mean that I can follow my own self now. I’m am still a slave. But this time, of a good Master and He is worth following to the end. For I am bought with His own blood.

#TARSeries 016: Any thing I deemed more important than my LORD’s time, words, and love is an idol.

#TARSeries 017: This is how I see my worth before: I’m so special that it took a King’s death to save me. This is how I see my worth now: I’m nothing without the King who died to save me. My Lord Jesus Christ is special; for without Him, I would be a trash, a filthy rag worthy for hellfire’s fuel.

#TARSeries 018: Times of loneliness taught me this: the glorious beauty of my Master’s presence is oftentimes best felt in the silence, where no drums and guitar distortions distract your attention from His glory.

#TARSeries 019: I am sorry for thinking that worship is all about the slow songs, for manipulating people’s emotions through feel good music on Sundays, for forgetting about it on weekdays and for thinking that it is all about me.

#TARSeries 020: “When the music fades and all stripped away, I simply come, longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart. Yes, I will bring You more than a song, for the song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within. You’re looking into my heart.” Always best spoken than sung.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Wrap Ups

 

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TAR Week 1 Wrap Up

Week 1 Wrap UpThoughts Art Ransomed (TAR) are random reflections I regularly post on Facebook. They are thoughts from my personal meditation of God’s word, songs, and statements I find from friends and other sources. This week’s series is all about being all in for Christ and what it means to be a Christian.

#TARSeries 001: Oftentimes I work driven by many things learned from the Bible school to the point of exhausting myself trying to be approved by men when only God’s approval matters. O that my heart would burn with the passion only for God’s name!

#TARSeries 002: I know nothing of the battles everyone is fighting through. So, I should be kind to everyone. Always. (From To Save A Life‘s Facebook post.)

#TARSeries 003: I’ve caused enough unnecessary hurts to many people for me to learn to live by this principle: SPEAK ONLY WHAT’S NECESSARY WHEN NECESSARY.

#TARSeries 004: I find it always necessary to speak about my Lord Jesus Christ everywhere everytime.

#TARSeries 005: I want this to be my epitaph: Here lies a stranger who wants to meet you in heaven and he wants you to know that the ONLY  WAY TO HEAVEN IS JESUS CHRIST.

#TARSeries 006: I should take my worth from the cross of Christ, not from my critics.

#TARSeries 007: I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You (taken from Hawk Nelson’s song, “Words”).

#TARSeries 008: I’m sorry for passing judgment instead of extending love (from a post by All In Power).

Follow me on Facebook to get the everyday posts.

Next weeks series: Things To Think About Before I Marry

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Wrap Ups

 

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