I would like to begin tonight’s message with a story.
As I sat in a restaurant one afternoon with a young lady, she looked at me with resignation and disappointment in her eyes. I asked“ What’s wrong?”
She replied “ I feel like such a failure…” When I asked her to elaborate she spoke of how success meant having “so many children, such and such a job, a particular income and a certain type of home.” Then I asked her by whose standards was her idea of success based upon. She acknowledged she was comparing her life to the world’s definition of success and prosperity. This conversation took place last year. I have been thinking about it since then and have been saving articles on the subject for just such an occasion as tonight. Because I am also a nurse, I see what I saw in her eyes every day in people of all ages. Disappointment, regret for not have taken chances, fear, doubt, and in many cases suicide all because people have been trying to achieve success by the fickle standard of society during their lifetime, and not by the unchanging standard of YHVH Elohim. Are you successful? Or are you a failure? Tonight let’s take a look first at a few ideas of the world concerning success then at what G-d says it takes to be successful and the attributes of a few successful people in the Bible. Let us see how we really measure up.
According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, success is “the gaining of wealth, fame, etc.” I then went to the Internet and checked hundreds of sites. They all dealt with business prosperity, profitability and money.
In the Citrus County Chronicle October 2,000 by Andrew Wood: “ The first and most formidable obstacle you must face in the road to success is yourself. Success does not hinge on age, color, creed, luck, appearance or any other of the hundreds of mythical factors” you hear about in the world. He says it is no accident but that YOU ALONE can determine whether or not you are successful. YOU are in CONTROL of your own destiny.
I even asked three people at work to define their idea of success and these are the comments I received. See if you can find the missing common denominator.
1. “I think success is when a person has achieved their life goals. To me success is I’m happy, I have my family and both my husband and myself have jobs that fulfill our financial needs, challenge us and gives us a certain degree of security.
2. “To me success is being able to find something you love and are passionate about. To make a comfortable living and also being able to raise your children to be successful adults.
3. Being the best person possible, achieving your goals and moving above and beyond them. Utilizing what has been given to you, but not stopping with that, making life better for yourself and the family.
Now… what is missing? YHVH… G-d.
You see it all the time; buy this, dress for success, amaze your friends and neighbors, become the talk of the town, become the envy of all who see you. You deserve it, I’m worth it, only the elite drive this. And it goes on and on year after year. More… bigger is better… And what happens? You get so far behind in debt trying to “get ahead” in the world that you do not know whether you are coming or going. As a result we have increased alcoholism, suicide, abuse, divorce, neglect and dissatisfaction with life because what the world calls success is a concept derived and planted in our minds by haSatan and subscribed to by unbelievers and those who are not yet strong enough in Torah to be able to discern the difference between the imitation and the real thing. I saw a news clip on TV the other night and there is a research project investigating why people can’t sleep! Do you know what they came up with? Stress! Like an Amoebae couldn’t figure that out! You know I could go on about this, but I want to spend the rest of our time tonight on sharing G-d’s plan for success for you. By the way, in case you are sitting there saying “ Hey, I’m retired and I was already a success and this won’t apply to me”, hold that thought until you hear the REST of the story.
In Genesis 26 we see success and prosperity given to Yitz’chak because not only did his father Avraham do as YHVH had instructed but he also was OBEDIENT to follow his mitzvot (commands), regulations and teachings. In verse 12 we see “Yitz’chak planted crops in that land and reaped that year a hundred times as much as he had sowed.” Adonai had blessed him. And in verse 13,” The man became rich and prospered more and more, until he had become wealthy indeed.” In 39:2 again, “Adonai was with Yosef, and he became wealthy while he was in the household of his master the Egyptian. His master saw how Adonai was with him, that Adonai prospered everything he did. Yosef pleased him as he served him…” And then as we go down to verse 9 when he refuses to sleep with his master’s wife he says” How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against G-d?” Again, we see OBEDIENCE.
Now turn to Deut 6:1. Here we travel a little further down the line to where Moshe is giving the law to the people. He starts out with the statement “Now this is the mitzvah or command, the laws and rulings which Adonai your
G-d ordered me to teach you for you to obey in the land you are crossing over to possess, so that you will fear Adonai your G-d and observe all his regulations and mitzvot that I am giving you- you, your child, and your grandchild- as long as you live, so that you will have a long life. Notice here that G-d is saying these things are to be taught and practiced forever, not until society decides these things are inconvenient or out of style with the times, but forever. He goes on, “Now listen Israel,(and this is all true believers as you probably know by now), and take care to OBEY, so that you will increase greatly, as Adonai, the G-d of your ancestors, promised you by giving you a land flowing with milk and honey.
Now we have seen WHAT we must do to be successful in the eyes of
G-d. Pretty big order wouldn’t you say? Think you have arrived yet? Lets
Now to 6:10-7:11. We see Moshe reminding the people that their prosperity DID NOT come as a result of anything they were able to accomplish. This is in direct conflict with what Mr. Wood said in the article I started with. Moshe cautions the people saying, “ You are to fear Adonai your G-d, serve him and swear by his Name. You are not to follow other gods, chosen from the gods of the peoples around you, because Adonai your G-d, who is here with you, is a jealous G-d. If you do, the anger of Adonai your G-d will destroy you from the face of the earth. Do not put Adonai your G-d to the test. OBSERVE DILIGENTLY the mitzvot of Adonai your G-d, and his instructions and laws which he has given you…”
In vs 7:9 we read, “Adonai your G-d is indeed G-d, the faithful G-d, who keeps his covenant and extends grace to those who love him AND OBSERVE his mitzvot, to a thousand generations. Hmm, sounds like we still fall under this umbrella of time do we not? For those who say the law is dead or outdated as I hear all the time, where did they see the expiration date? If they know enough to refer to the sacrifice made by Yahshua then they fail to recognize that ended only the animal sacrifice requirement for sin and not the requirement to obey his father’s commandments. For if Yahshua comes in his father’s name and he is one with the father as he says, how can he supercede his father’s directives and authority? Think about it.
We go on to verse 10, “ But he repays those who hate him to their face and destroys them. Verse 11, “ You are to keep the mitzvot and readings which I am giving you today and OBEY them.”
So now you become successful by YHVH’s standards. What typically happens next? AH yes, our YHVH knows all too well…In Deut. 8:11 it says “ Be careful not to forget Adonai your G-d by not OBEYING his mitzvot, rulings and regulations that I am giving you today. Otherwise, after you have eaten and are satisfied, built fine houses and lived in them, and increased your heard, flocks, silver and gold and everything else you own, you will become proud- hearted. Forgetting Adonai your G-d… “ Vs 17 “ you will think to yourself, ‘ My own power and strength of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.’ Then in verse 19 and 20: “ I am warning you in advance that you will perish just like the nations that Adonai is causing to perish ahead of you, because you will not have heeded the voice of Adonai your G-d.”
So you say, “yea but I know lots of people who don’t obey G-d’s laws and they really have it made. How come I have to work for it and they don’t? Well first, you must remember that you should be obeying his laws and instructions because you love him and want to please him; not because you think it is the only way to have your way. Second we see G-d’s perfect design in all of this In Ecc.7: 14 it says “ When things are going well, enjoy yourself, but when things are going badly, consider that G-d made the one alongside the other, so that people would learn nothing of their futures.” How about that G-d! He doesn’t want us to get so comfortable even if we think we are observing all he requires to think nothing adverse can come our way. Rabbi has spoken many times on this fact. The road to Yahshua and salvation is not toll-free. In Job 8:8-22 he says, “ Ask the older generations, and consider what their ancestors found out; for we who were born yesterday know nothing, our days on earth are but a shadow. They will teach you, they will tell you, and they will say what is in their hearts.” By the way, if you have never been around an elderly person, you are really missing something. They do tell you exactly what they think and it doesn’t matter who is around at the time. But these people have a safe deposit box of wisdom they are usually just waiting to share with someone who will come close enough to insert the key. We are the only country who considers our elderly to be as disposable as our infant’s diapers. What a tragedy that we don’t tap in to the years of wisdom they possess. Even here it is acknowledged. “ Can papayrus grow except in a marsh? Can swamp grass flourish without water? While still green, before being cut down, it dries up faster than any other plant. Such are the paths of those who forget G-d, the hope of a hypocrite will perish- his confidence is mere gossamer, his trust a spider’s web. He can lean on his house, but it won’t stand, he can hold onto it, but it won’t last; [for its destruction will come] like the lush growth of a plant in the sun, it’s shoots may spread out all over its garden, but meanwhile its roots cause the stone house to collapse, as it seizes hold of the rocks, someone who tears it away from its place denies he has ever seen it. Yes, this is the “joy” of the way [of the Godless], and out of the dust will spring up others [like him].
So, where is the promise for us? We are not deserving of a promise from anyone actually. I remember when my brother used to ask my mom, “ what do I get if I empty the trash?” Mom would respond” It’s not what you’ll get if you do, it’s what you’ll get if you don’t”. And the trash got emptied. Well YHVH does make us a promise because he knows how anxious we get and how much like little kids we are at any age. In Job 22:21 we read, “Learn to be at peace with [G-d], in this way good will come [back] to you. Please! Receive instruction from his mouth, and take his words to heart. If you return to Shaddai (here we see G-d referred to as “The breasted One” which implies one who nurtures, and “nurses” if you will; you will be built up. By the way, remember also that it is our mother’s who pass immunity to us through breast milk. Does not YHVH pass on immunity as El Shaddai? “If you drive the wickedness far from your tents, if you lay your treasure down in the dust…and your sparkling silver; then Shaddai will be your delight, and will lift up your face to G-d, you will entreat him, and he will hear you, and you will pay what you vowed, what you decide to do will succeed, and light will shine on your path; when someone is brought down, you will say, ‘It was pride, because [G-d] saves the humble.”
YHVH continues to admonish us in Johshua 1:7. Here He is talking with Y’hoshua shortly after Moshe’s death and he is comforting and encouraging him. He says in verse 6, “ Be strong, be bold; for you will cause this people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers I would give them. Only be strong and very bold in taking care to FOLLOW ALL TORAH which Moshe my servant ordered you to follow; do not turn from it either to the right or to the left; then you will succeed wherever you go. Yes, KEEP THIS BOOK OF TORAH on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. THEN your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed.”
So, what is success according to YHVH Elohim? The answer to that is found in Colossians 3:1-7. “So if you were raised along with Messiah, then seek the things above, where Messiah is sitting at the right hand of G-D. Focus your minds on the things above, not on the things here on earth. Therefore, put to death the earthly part of your nature- sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry); for it is because of these things that G-d’s anger is coming on those who disobey him. When we do this, he goes so far as to grant us many temporal blessings as well which may include a nice home, an income above that which is necessary to pay the bills and other desires of our hearts that are in line with his will.
Rabbi Tama’ Hunt