GOD'S PURPOSE FOR ME
What is God's purpose for me as His child? The apostle Paul clearly expressed it in Romans 8:28-29:We are assured and know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also destined to be molded into the image of His Son (and share inwardly His likeness), that He might become the first-born among many brethren.
That's God's standard for success - to daily become more like Jesus. In my pursuit of "success," I've discovered a few truths that I would like to share.
THE NATURE OF SUCCESS
First of all, success is not found in a certain geographical location, a certain job, or a certain person. The average Christian, seeking to know God's will for his life, will spend much of his prayer time and energy asking God where he should go, what company or mission he should work with and what person he should marry. These are legitimate prayers and need to be made. However, the answers to these prayers come more easily and are in line with God's purposes when we concentrate our energies on discovering the person of God.
RUTH WANTED TO GO ALONG
One Bible character who beautifully illustrates this truth is Ruth. Motivated by her pure love and devotion to Naomi, Ruth left her homeland to follow Naomi to a strange country. She wasn't preoccupied with questions about what she should do with her life. She was not worried that Naomi might lead her astray. She simply wanted to be wherever Naomi was. Even after Naomi made it clear that there was nothing ahead for her to hope for, Ruth still wanted to go along. Little did she realize what God had ahead for her; that He would involve her in His plan for the whole world.
CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, A PERSON
As I've walked with the Lord, He has taught me that the Christian life is a relationship with God, a person. As I've learned to focus my energies on knowing and loving Him, I've discovered that the external issues of life demand a relatively small amount of my prayer time. They seem to fall into place when He occupies first position in my heart. Concentrate on knowing God as Ruth knew Naomi - until you have such devotion and love for Him that all you want is to follow Him no matter where He leads. All the other details of life are His responsibility. He will reveal His direction for you.
GOD'S MEASURE OF SUCCESS, AND WORLD'S MEASURE OF SUCCESS
Secondly, God's measure of success doesn't always look like success. Some think of success as having a family and enough income to comfortably provide for them. Others have greater ambitions - power, fame, position. We know from the lives of many Bible characters that position, material wealth, or influence are not necessarily wrong, but they don't equal success. Even within the kingdom of God, we are sometimes influenced by the world's measure for success, and we strive with real sincerity to be prosperous for God.
HE WANTS US TO PROSPER IN SPIRIT
In my earlier years as a missionary my heart was full of ambition. Not knowing my own heart, I didn't realize that my ambitions were for my glory and not for God's. I was restless. I moved from one place to another, seeking success rather than seeking God himself. God is looking for people who will be successful according to His standards. That may not necessarily include material prosperity and well-being all the time. I believe that God wants His own to prosper in spirit, soul and body. But there are times when our success in being conformed to the image of Jesus may appear to be anything but prosperous as the world knows it.
THE TRUE SUCCESS
Joseph is an example of true success. He prospered wherever he was - in slavery, in prison, in Pharaoh's court - because he recognized God's purpose for him and knew that God was controlling and using every circumstance to shape his life. He told his brothers, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." With that attitude, Joseph was able to be molded into the image of Jesus each day. And what could well have been a sad, tragic story, ending in the pit; turned into what almost seems like a fairy tale.
You can be successful in whatever circumstances you find yourself - the "prison" of the "palace" - but it depends on your glad submission to God's purpose in it.
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