Friday, January 31, 2020

Success from the Inside Out

Sharing a short article by Nona Jones which might resonate with some of you readers ...


Have you ever experienced outward success while privately battling internal feelings of insignificance? Have you ever smiled for the camera after receiving an award or recognition, but struggled with emptiness and worthlessness afterward? Have you ever hustled your way to professional or personal success, only to find fatigue and frustration on the other side of it? We get the dream car. The dream house. Take the dream vacations. And, after all of that, we wake up from the dream and realize… we’re just tired. I’m not sharing this in theory; I’m sharing this out of my own lived experience.

I started out in my career with an appointment to an executive-level role at just twenty-three years old and I have been blessed to experience a steady string of promotions across various sectors of business over the last fourteen years. My name found its way onto several “30 Under 30” and “40 Under 40” lists, but with every new position, recognition and relationship, I never experienced the sense of fulfillment that I assumed would come when I achieved it. Have you ever been there? You assumed that if you achieved “X” position/title you would finally feel successful, but once you achieved it, the “magical success fairy dust” faded over time. I’ve discovered that there are two types of success; success that empties and success that fills.

God desires that His children experience a success that fills. Good success.

Joshua 1:1-8 is a foundational passage of scripture for my life. Contextually, it is like a divine parentheses in the story of the nation of Israel because, immediately prior to this text, Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses. Moses was the faithful and revered leader of the Israelites, hand-picked by God to lead them out of Egypt and into the promised land. Due to the unbelief and rebellion of the nation of Israel when God told them to take possession of the promised land, God told Moses that neither he nor anyone in that generation would see the promised land. Instead, Joshua would lead the new generation into it.

Right after Joshua 1:1-8, Joshua instructs the children of Israel to take possession of the land, so this passage comes between two momentous events in Israelite history. And what happens in these eight verses is consequential for Joshua and us today. God pulled Joshua to the side and gave him some very important instruction that was intended to set direction for him and the entire nation of Israel. God said:

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success— Joshua 1:7-8 NKJV, emphasis mine

Do you want to live a prosperous, successful life? I certainly do. And this passage of scripture finds God telling Joshua how to do both, but the Hebrew words for prosper are actually two different words. First, when God says “do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go,” the word translated “prosper” is the Hebrew word Sakal which means “to be prudent, circumspect, to have insight and comprehension.” In other words; God says, “do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have wisdom wherever you go.” Many people are searching the business and management section of Barnes and Noble to find wisdom when God lets us know his Word contains the power to make us wise if we know it and apply it.

Second, when God says, “meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success,” the word translated prosperous is not Sakal, it is the Hebrew word Tsalach, which means “to advance, make progress, succeed, be profitable.” This particular word is used sixty-four times in the Old Testament to describe God’s divine power to bring about success apart from man’s intervention, but this is the one and only time is it used to describe a man’s ability to be successful. In this one verse we find God, for the first and only time, teaching us how to translate His divine power of favor into human capacity. God says to us, “if you do this you will succeed on your own.” And that success will be good.

We tend to believe success is good by virtue of it being success. In our view, if you achieved your goal, you succeeded and, therefore, that is a good thing. But in order for there to be “good success” (Joshua 1:8), there must be success that is not good. Anything we achieve that leaves us frustrated, tired, angry, arrogant, selfish, depressed and isolated is not good success, no matter how many trappings may have come with it. Sure you got the promotion, but you can’t get any sleep from stress. Yes you grew the church past 1,000 members, but you’re frustrated and anxious from limited staff. What if God never intended for you to get that job? What if the season for growth was forced before God’s timing? As He said to Joshua, we must remain fixated on God’s Word and will more than comparing our lives with other people because the type of success God wants for us begins within. It begins with a surrender to God’s plans; even when those plans are not our plans. It requires knowing God’s Word and trusting God with our resume.


Written for Faith.Full by Nona Jones, author of Success from the Inside Out.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dream On....

So the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat played in the city. What an amazing wonderful time.  

For seven-eight months they have been rehearsing. Last night was the finale. So many lessons from this amazing but true story!

Only God, and He alone, can deposit hope in hopelessness situations, bring about redemption, and an amazing beyond-all-imagination future. The promise that
“.....all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 


holds true even today. We can't see the end from the beginning - only He can. We can't imagine what lies beyond the horizon - but He's seen it. We can foresee what is around the corner - He already knows.

Thankful!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Learning to Obey

I said “No” too quickly before, for another event. This time I agreed, albeit after some hesitation. The topic was one which, as I prepared, I got all excited about. 

On the same morning I was due to speak, I was woken just after dawn with a re-write etched clearly in my mind. Had to be God and not me! I got up, and got it all down on Keynotes as well as PowerPoint in less than an hour. 

I experienced such (unnatural) peace that I didn’t look at it again till it was time to go and upload it on the computer at the speaking venue. Never before!

As I spoke, changes and tweaks came. All I can say is, "God, You are amazing". 

When I ended, it seemed like I ended too early - there was too much time. With hindisght however, it actually turned out to be God-ordained time - the Good News could be shared in the small breakout groups. And such joy! One precious soul accepted the Lord in the small group. Hallelujah! 

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Year Later

How interesting that a year later, after posting about rejection and acceptance, I am now in this place where I have to deal with it again. 

This time it is because of doing what I thought was right. And finding out later how it turns out not the way I would have envisaged or liked. Trust seems to be lost, the relationship is in danger of being entirely broken. There is a strong sense of being rejected, of not good enough, of having made wrong decisions which need to be paid for. 

It is tempting to make apologies without meaning them. It is a self-preservation instinct to give reasons without being sorry for the betrayal of trust or the feelings hurt. It is always on the tip of the tongue to blame someone else. After all, I am a victim too, I reason to myself. I am only doing what I am supposed to do. 

And yet, I know now, that this is not good enough. Feelings of being wronged cant be unchanged. Facts dont dictate feelings. Logic doesnt rule sentiment. 
So after apologising,
all I can do is to pray, 
and wait
And trust that ALL things will work out for good, for those who love You, and are called according to Your purpose (Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.") And that You always do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can think or imagine. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Unconditional - Then and Now

Some years ago, at our first connect group meeting, we were given paper plates. One one side, we were asked to one thing we were before we knew Jesus. It was easy for me to write. I always felt this way as a child, and well into my teenage and young adult years.....
I had always felt that others were preferred instead of me. The sense of rejection was high and stayed with me even when I accomplished many things, and had much praise. When others were promoted, I took it personally that I wasnt. When others were blessed, I found it hard to rejoice for them. This lie of the enemy, that I was of little worth, that I was never good enoughm influenced many of my relationships and affected many of the things I did. My identity in Christ was stolen... 

That is, until the truth of what Christ has done for me, and how much He loves me began to dawn in me. My Hubby, with his patient and unconditional love, epitomised God's agape love for me. Who else would die for me even when I was so very unworthy? Thankfulness continues to flow as this truth sets me free....  

Indeed, that night, at the group meeting, when asked to write on the reverse of the plate what Jesus had done for me, I could thankfully and truthfully scribe this!
What joy when I wrote those two words down! I felt another level of freedom as I pressed the crayon down harder. Such love! Such liberty!

Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
And that truth applies till today. Praise God! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Comforting Forgiveness

‪These words from C S Lewis are strangely comforting 

"I think if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. 

Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves 

as a higher tribunal than Him"‬


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Constant.....

It is the end of the Gregorian Calendar.

Yet again, many people have passed away. Some more publicly than others. Some more peacefully than others. Some are more missed than others. 

Death is a constant. As is change.

The only other constant is God.