Elements Of Faith
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Introduction: Seeking God for Success
When we talk about achieving success it is important to put success into perspective. Success is often defined as achieving some desired outcome or reaching a goal. That’s a reasonable definition as far as it goes, but in this country, and especially in the Christian community, we should aspire to a higher standard. The foundation of success is in the quality of the relationships that we develop – with our families, within the Church, in the community and with God. It is in God and through our personal relationship with our Lord and Savior that we should seek success. Success is more than doing what we want, it is wanting to do what we need – a recommitment to love as the foundation for the relationships we should build to achieve success in our lives.
When we accept the Lord we are born again and in that new birth we are challenged to have a new heart where the word of Christ dwells richly. God is not at the center of everything that happens to us. We have choice and there is evil in the world. When we put God at the center of our choices, then we are promised the strength and direction to make our way to success. No problem is too large for God's intervention, and no person is too small for God's attention. Only God has a view from the top! When we trust Him, we trust a vision that we can never achieve on our own.
The vineyard as an extended metaphor is used frequently throughout the Old and the New Testament. To achieve success we must seek first to be in God’s vineyard, but getting there requires a new spirit and a new set of priorities. God is not impressed by titles, accomplishment and success of a worldly nature. Good intentions and good beginnings are not good enough because better is expected. He wants us to bear good fruit and he has high expectations that those who enjoy vineyard privileges will produce vineyard fruit. Seeking God for success is not a free pass. It doesn’t deliver us from all pain and discomfort, but He will deliver all that we need to accomplish the goal that He has for us.
Seeking God for success requires faith. Faith is not an emotion. It is not a feeling, it isn't a conviction based on deductive reasoning, and it isn't an opinion. Faith is an intellectual ascent that perfects the mind. It puts the intellect in possession of truth that reason alone cannot grasp. Faith goes beyond words and formulas and brings us directly to God’s light – where the known and the unknown overlap. It not only teaches us truths about God, it reveals the unknown in ourselves. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him. Seeking God for success requires trust. When we lean on Him rather than our own understanding, He will make our path straight. Seeking God for success requires prayer. We are instructed to forgo anxiety and present our requests to God. When we pray, however, it is more than a casual request. It is important to have faith, trust and the right frame of mind and spirit. God will answer the prayers of those who are in His vineyard with a heart set on bearing good fruit. Seeking God for success requires perseverance and patience. Even with faithful and diligent prayer the answers don’t come according to our schedule. They come according to God who has a better sense of the right time than we could ever imagine. We get in trouble when we try to get ahead of God and hurry Him up. It never works!
The ultimate test of success is how we make a difference. As individuals or communities, our success will ultimately depend on the choices we make and how we involve God in those choices. When we become too important to associate with the unimportant; when we promote factions, division and discord; when we justify hardened hearts that will not forgive; and when we pursue selfish ambition over God’s mission, then we are not producing vineyard fruit. The fruits of the spirit [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.] involve relationships. God wants us to remember that we are connected. He wants us to edify our neighbors. He wants us to do right by our children – not just the ones who call us mother or father. The village concept is real. While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes strong families to make a village, it takes strong adults to make strong families, and it takes well-raised children to make strong adults. We are all part of this cycle and real men and real women will not wait to be asked or begged to do what needs to be done. Personal success achieved without compassion is moral failure. God wants us to be involved, but we can’t score from the stands! We can’t score from the bench. We have to be in the game - and when we are we will truly understand what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9 - No eye has seen, No ear has heard, No mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.
God wants us to seek Him for success. Success is not how much we have, it is how much we give. Success is not how much money we make, it is how we make that money work to build a better world. It is not the car we drive, it is the lift we give someone when he or she needs a ride. It is not about our credentials; it’s about our credibility as Christians. Success is not living large, it is leaving large footprints for future generations to follow on their way to success.