Monday, April 30, 2012
THE SECRET OF SUCCESS
"He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:3 HCSB)
Would you like to be successful in anything you do?
That's pretty much a "no-brainer" isn't it? How many people would say, "My goal in life is to be a complete failure"? The truth is that we want to be successful.
But, what is true success? I like the definition I heard Charles Stanley give, "Success is having all you need, and the ability to enjoy it." That begins with our greatest need being met--salvation, forgiveness of sin and a right relationship with God. Jesus said there is no profit in gaining the whole world and losing our soul. That would be eternal failure! Once that deepest matter is taken care of, then we can trust God in the lesser needs of daily life--and not only endure life, but enjoy it! Charles Stanley's definition parallels Psalm 1 that begins, "How happy is the man..." and promises, "Whatever he does prospers."
The Psalmist paints a portrait of one who is successful--satisfied, serene, secure, smiling. He shares with us the secret of success.
THERE ARE PLACES THE SUCCESSFUL AVOID.
"How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!" (Psalm 1:1 HCSB)
Avoid the place of secular counsel, "How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked..." (v.1a). The tragic mistake that millions make is to find a book written by someone who perhaps has made a fortune or found some fame and buy into the advice given by the wicked. It is possible, of course, that one might attain a lifestyle of the rich and famous by heeding their counsel and implementing their philosophy. Yet, when we peek beyond the fence encircling their vast estate, and dig beneath the glitz and glitter, we uncover empty hearts and bankrupt souls--and this is why so many end up with broken relationships and self-destructive behavior.
Avoid the place of sinful conduct, "How happy is the man who does not...take the path of sinners..." (v.1b). Life is about choices. The destination you reach is determined by the direction you take. One road leads to ruin. It is the easy way, the popular way, well-advertised and appealing to the senses--the way of the world. That is the path to everlasting poverty. The other road leads to redemption. It is hard, lonely, steep and involves self-denial--the way of the Lord. You do not carry designer luggage, but a cross! Yet, that is the path to everlasting prosperity!
Avoid the place of scornful communication, "How happy is the man who does not...join a group of mockers!" (v.1c) Our society is saturated with the scornful. There are many who build themselves up by tearing others down. Famous comedians root a lavish lifestyle in the soil of scorn. God is blasphemed, the Word of God attacked, the church ridiculed and faith mocked. It is relentless--for now. One day, God gets the last laugh--just read the next Psalm. That is not the group you want to join!
There are places the successful avoid and THERE ARE PRINCIPLES THE SUCCESSFUL APPLY.
"Instead, his delight is in the Lord's instruction, and he meditates on it day and night." (Psalm 1:2 HCSB)
This requires the passionate love for God's principles, "his delight is in the Lord's instruction..." (v.2a). Rather than seeking worldly wisdom, there is a pursuit of eternal truth. Trying to satisfy the desire for insight into the way of success by drinking from this world is like trying to quench your thirst by drinking water from the ocean--the more you ingest, the thirstier you become. Oh, but to draw from the well of the Word--now, that is life! I must say that the sweetness of Scripture has aroused such a passion for its precepts that brings me to its satisfying spring again and again. Do you find it so?
There is also the persistent learning of God's principles, "he meditates" (v.2b). Like a sheep chewing the cud, extracting every morsel of nutrition from the grass---that is the Hebrew meaning behind the word for meditation. The demonic spirits promote a form of meditation that empties the mind--and paves the way for the entrance of evil. The Divine Spirit presents the form of meditation that saturates the mind with the light of the Word and drives out the darkness of the world. No matter how much you know of God's Word, there are immeasurable insights yet to be explored.
This must lead to the practical living by God's principles, "day and night." (v.2c). That encompasses all our time on earth--the duty of daily life. We are deceived to think that hearing the Word is the completion of our responsibility. It is the essential commencement of it, that must lead to the doing of the Word. The truth that permeates our thoughts, forms convictions that pervade our actions. Scripture is informational--it is "the Lord's instruction," it is inspirational--leading to meditation, and becomes incarnate--fleshed out in daily life.
There are places the successful avoid, principles the successful apply, and then THERE IS PROSPERITY THE SUCCESSFUL ACHIEVE.
"He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin." (Psalm 1:3-6 HCSB)
True prosperity means we are planted, "He is like a tree planted beside streams of water..." (v.3a). There is stability as the spiritually successful are rooted on the Rock of Ages. There is sustainability as their roots draw from an inexhaustible supply--rivers of grace. We can withstand the inevitable winds of Judgment Day that will test us, "The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous. (Psalm 1:4, 5 HCSB)
True prosperity means we are productive, "He is like a tree...that bears its fruit in season..." (v.3b). If our root is in the Holy Scriptures our fruit will be of the Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22, 23 HCSB) Now that is a prosperous person! God is looking for fruit--does He find it? "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin". (Psalm 1:6 HCSB)
True prosperity means we are perennial, ""He is like a tree...whose leaf does not wither." (v.3c) Our leaves do not turn brown and turn loose! There is an enduring beauty--the beauty of holiness--for one who is spiritually successful. So many in our world go up like rocket, and hurtle back down just as fast. They have their fleeting, fifteen minutes of fame. The success of the godly abounds because he or she abides in Christ.
True prosperity means we are profitable, "Whatever he does prospers." In personal life before God, in home life before family, in church life before saints, in business life before co-workers, in daily life before sinners--every dimension is enriched by the one who possesses the treasure of truth. This is the secret of success.