2 Samuel 8 – How to Succeed

I’m one of those people who tends to wait and see what happens. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy or a slacker. I’m the type that steadily works, taking care of the day-to-day stuff; assuming that God will somehow take that and weave it together into some kind of direction or master plan.

But I’ve known people who are conquerors. They are going somewhere specific, and they have a plan to take the next piece of ground that will get them where they want to go.

This was David. In 2 Samuel chapter 8, you see a David who is focused, driven, and calculating. He works hard, makes the hard decision, and strategically advances toward his goal. And in all of this, he didn’t lose sight of the fact that it was God’s blessing (not David’s ingenuity) that made him successful.

If any of us are going to be successful, that’s the combination God’s looking for. A focused and calculated drive toward a goal, along with a grateful humility toward God for His work and blessing. Let me say that one more time…for my sake. Success comes from a focused and calculated drive toward a goal, coupled with a grateful humility toward God for His work and blessing.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like David.

1 Samuel 18-19 – How to be Successful

If you type “success” in Amazon’s search bar, you will come up with over 100,000 hits! Why? Because we all want to be successful. We want success in marriage, in parenting, in business, in love, in finances…in everything!

Even churches fall prey to the scramble for success. A church staff will visit other churches that are considered “successful” in hopes of determining the secret to their success. Then that staff races back to their church to implement those success formulas…hoping to to become the “successful” church others want to visit.

But grasping for success can prove as difficult as nailing Jell-O to a tree.

1 Samuel chapters 18 and 19 give us the picture of two men…David and Saul. David steadily becomes more successful, while Saul steadily becomes less successful.

What’s the difference between these two men?

1 Samuel 18:14 tells us the Lord was “with David.” The Lord aligned Himself with David, because David aligned himself with the Lord. (1 Sam. 13:13-14)  In contrast, the Lord pulled away from Saul, because Saul pulled away from the Lord. (1 Sam. 13:13-14) (1 Sam. 15:10-11) (1 Sam. 15:22-23)

It’s always easier to fall down a hill than to climb up one. It’s easy to be like Saul and allow a little self focus, a little jealousy, and a little fear to subtly send you into an increasingly downward spiral. But God calls us back from that kind of drift.

True success comes from being “with” the Lord, and He “with” you. (James 4:8) You may achieve temporal, momentary, materialistic success apart from being “with” the Lord, but it will never be a deep, abiding success that remains irrevocable in the face of circumstances.

So, always remember… in your search for success, it doesn’t matter how much talent, ability, resources, charisma, creativity, or passion you may have. If God is not “with” you, you lose.

Deuteronomy 30 – The Choice Is Yours

Choice. It’s both wonderful and scary. Choice is always there and always available. From the dawn of creation until this very moment, choice has been the canvas on which life is painted. Choice is both the common denominator and the wild card of life.

It’s amazing that God would entrust us with the privilege, power, possibility, and unpredictability of choice. The fact that the God of order would allow us to choose speaks volumes about both His extensive power and love.

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Deuteronomy 10 – The importance of Being Persistent and Consistent.

When I was younger, I used to think that success was dependent upon talent, or skill, or wealth, or connectedness. I thought those who were successful merely had the right stuff and/or were in the right place at the right time.

There’s no doubt that these things are helpful, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to believe that success is much more about being persistent and consistent. Persistence and consistency are the two inseparable keys to success…both temporally and spiritually. In his book by the same name, Eugene Peterson called it “a long obedience in the same direction.”

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Deuteronomy 6 – God’s Locker Room Instructions

Just before a big game, a coach will gather the players together in the locker room and go over instructions about the attitudes and behaviors they will need to win the game.

You would think that Moses would give the same kind of locker room instructions just before sending the Children of Israel across the Jordon river to fight for the Promised Land. But that’s not the case!

In Deuteronomy chapter 6, instead of telling them what they need to do to win the battle, Moses tells them what they need to do after they have won the battle. He warns them not about the struggle, but about the success.

It’s true. Once we’ve achieved the success we’ve desired, we must be even more on our guard, for complacency is much more threatening than combat. Struggle heightens your senses, while success dulls them. When we’re in need, we acknowledge our dependency on God. When our bellies and our bank accounts are full, we act out of self-sufficiency.

So Moses reminds them that when the battle is over, and they are living in the peace and prosperity they always dreamed of, then it’s even more important that they…

  • Revere God as the One and only sovereign Creator and Sustainer.
  • Respond obediently and promptly to His commands and directions.
  • Recall all He has done for them.

This sounds like a good reminder/warning for us. Compared to the rest of the world, we are very wealthy…even the poorest of us. We live in an abundance that much of the world can’t imagine. We’ve been blessed with this, but not guaranteed it.

So don’t forget to revere the God of your blessings. Don’t forget to respond obediently to His commands and directions. And don’t forget to recall His mighty interventions in your life.

Deuteronomy 4 – Focus!

Focus! If you’re a photographer, this means to train your lens on the most important part of the photograph, making it sharp and clear. If you’re someone with a touch of ADHD and facing a lot of demands, it means to train your mind on the most important thing at the moment…so as to not get sidetracked or pulled away.

As the Children of Israel prepared to cross over into the Promised Land, I imagine their hearts and minds were crowded with lots of thoughts, fears, excitements, dreams, anticipation, apprehension, memories, etc.

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Numbers 13 – Armchair Quarterbacks

I’m not really into sports, but I still play “armchair quarterback” more than I care to admit. An armchair quarterback, is one who talks a good game. They sound strong, confident, and sure of themselves. But when it comes to truly getting involved and into the game, they suddenly come up with reasons why they can’t. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to, it’s just that they allow the difficulties, obstacles, and risks to get between them and what they want.

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Fear of Failure?

Refused to accept failureWe all want to be successful, whether it’s in business, raising kids, or marriage.  We often hesitate to do something if we’re not sure it’s the “right” thing to do, because we equate unsuccessful attempts with failure.

When you equate unsuccessful attempts with failure, then you play it safe. You shy way from trying new and different things so as to not fail. The end result is that your life and your options become more constricted and you become less free.

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