Sunday, April 30, 2017

WHAT IS SUCCESS? GOD IS THE JUDGE

DID I “MISS IT?
In our darkest moments we often think we have failed or that we have not lived up to our potential. To some degree this may be true for most of us. But ultimately we must do our best... and leave the judgment to God.
In a dark dungeon and about to be beheaded, John the Baptist sent word to Jesus saying, “Are you the ONE or do we look for another?” These sad words express the despair of one who, for a moment, thought he had failed. Jesus responded with words of reassurance letting John know that the work he started was going forth gloriously with signs and wonders, and that John had correctly pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world.
A FRIEND'S QUESTION:
A friend who was struggling with a sense of failure recently sent me the following message:
"Here is my question, Billy Long: If I can’t see that I have accomplished much with my life thus far for the Kingdom, and certainly not what I may have expected to back in our salad days at ORU, how realistic is it to believe my story is going to dramatically alter and start counting for something at 60 years old~?! (And don’t even get me to speculate as to whether I would be willing to endure anything like what R____ has in order for that dramatic change to occur.)" ---L. P.
MY RESPONSE
We must serve Jesus Christ in the present. Obedience now (today) is not based on what we accomplished “yesterday.” We walk with Him NOW. Tomorrow is in His hands. The fruit and the results are also all in His hands. I don’t obey and walk with Him today based on what I think I will have accomplished tomorrow. I don’t obey today based on whether or not I did yesterday. I reach out and take His hand today, and follow Him “now.”
Fruit and accomplishments are also His to judge and deal with. Pick any Israelite family during the 400 years in Egypt when God was silent, and all they knew was the routine daily trudge and toil as slaves. Subjectively it would have felt like the biggest waste and futility of life. But they HAD to just BE THERE. Even when empty, desperate, half-dead, and hurting, they had to just simply be a link in the lineage, a holder of the baton until the fullness of time came and Moses arrived to take them to Canaan. There had to be physical lineage links from Jacob and Joseph to Moses and Canaan.
GOD IS THE JUDGE OF SUCCESS AND FAILURE
David completed his course and served the purpose of God in his generation (Acts 13: 36) even though his life was not perfect. There were many incidences in his life in which he could have been called a failure, yet he still went on to fulfill God's purpose and was called a man after God's heart. David's example shows us that God, while not condoning sin and irresponsibility, does factor in our mistakes, failures, and short-comings. He probably makes more allowances for these things than we do. "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust" (Psalm 103: 8-14). Therefore, He extends great mercy and abundant grace to those who sincerely desire and seek to do His will.
There are examples in the Bible of people who genuinely failed in God's service, but generally these failures are indicative of heart problems rather than competency issues. King Saul is an example. He was disqualified and removed from the throne, not because he lacked skill at being a king, but because he did not have a heart to obey the Lord (Acts 13: 22; 1 Cor. 9: 27). He failed in his obedience and faith, and he refused to surrender to the will of God. The issue comes back to the heart. A person who is rebellious at heart will fail and then use his failure as an excuse to further disobey. A person who has a heart after God may stumble but will get back up and persevere in his attempt to please God and do His will.
God is the ultimate judge of success and failure. In one phase of ministry I felt I was riding a graceful and beautiful thoroughbred. In another phase I felt I was riding a bucking bronco, tossed and thrown. A third situation felt like sitting on an old sway-back, gray mule who could barely stand up. The first seemed a success, the second a partial success and a partial failure, while the third started off slow and then gradually tapered off—basically it failed. But things are not always as they seem. Man and God do not always esteem things the same, and the mysteries of His will are not always known to us. Therefore, in all circumstances, we should endure and hold to Jesus in faith. We should do our best and let God be the judge. Sometimes we succeed in God's plan while failing in our own, while at other times we fail in our own while succeeding in His. What we think is failure may not be failure at all. But when the failure is real, God is able to work redemptively and turn our shame into double honor.
“Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.” Psalm 25:20

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Please Introduce Yourself

I am grateful for those of you who visit my blog. I am especially pleased to have so many visitors from South Korea. I am blessed that you have been reading my posts and have recommended them to your friends. I would be blessed if you would send me a message and introduce yourself, so that I may know my new friends from South Korea. My email address is broblong@gmail.com.  
Billy Long