Salt Life

SALT

• Adds Flavor to Life,

• Purifies Set apart,

• Preserves  the souls of man for the Kingdom of God

Good Morning,

Today we get a chance to look at Matthew 5:13-16. The Salt Life image that we see on cars or shirts is imprinted my brain. Verse 13 says how we are the salt of the earth. A couple characteristics of salt that can be seen as a parallel to our Christian life includes the ability to make me thirst.   Last week as I battled a cold and went to the good ole’ gargling of salt water,  it made me thirst.  That even as I poured the salt into liquid it never lost its saltiness.  As we are living in this world do we lose our flavor? As we are watered down by worldly pressures do we keep our saltiness  in every part of our life? Colossians 4:6  says Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

Salt also adds seasoning. It makes a better taste. Does the flavor of being a Christian make others come back for seconds? Seasoning brings out the best flavor of our foods.  Do we bring out our best and point it all back to God?

 

I have learned I can’t always control the circumstances I face, but I am the keeper of my “saltiness.” Will I be bitter, broken down or better and making a difference? Less seasoned or more flavorful? When God comes back, what good am I if I’ve lost my flavoring?

 

Light of the World

If we all understand that the light of the world is God we will be able to see. Matthew 5:14-16 what living for Christ is like. That God’s light should be in full display in our hearts, minds, works and actions. That as we let our light shine others will see the reality of God in us.   God’s light will guide us as we speak to Him and for Him. God’s light will shine when we are trying to avoid a situation.  Let’s not let sin dim our light.  Let’s not put our light to the side when others need to see.

Ephesians 5:8 says For you were once darkness, but now you are the light of the world. Live as children of the light.

Have a blessed day being the salt and the light.

Today’s Readings: Matthew 5:13-16, Psalm 59

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; you are my fortress , my refuge in times of trouble.

He Wants Us

2 Samuel 19 and Psalm 51 – Resurrection Eve

Have you ever wondered when the deniers, doubters, crucifiers, and liars had their moment of realization of who Jesus was and their role in His death? Was it immediate, like Peter when the rooster crowed the third time? Or did it take longer, after Jesus had been taken from the cross and put in the tomb? Or was it not until days later, when word got around that Jesus was alive, and Thomas even put his hand into his side.  Did they respond like David does, in his Psalms about his own sins? Had I been there, would I have realized it immediately, or would it have taken me awhile to understand? What would have been my response to knowing I put Jesus on the cross?

From an early age I learned about Jesus and have never doubted who He was or what He did for me.  As I got older, my heart to please God was challenged by my selfishness and temptations to sin. In high school especially, I was stuck on this hamster wheel of wanting to “be good” and do the right thing, but time and time again would fall into cycles of sin and rebellion. I would go through a period of mourning, praying, and vow to not fall into that junk again. I would “be good” for awhile and then it would start over. I was so frustrated with myself and lack of self control. Everything seemed so easy and made so much sense sitting in church on Sundays and at youth group on Wednesday nights.  But by Friday night – it all flew out the window.

I made a decision when I was 16 to try to get off that hamster wheel for good, and I wanted a REAL CHANGE. While I had always believed in Jesus, I needed to do something different and drastic in my life so that I could be more consistent in my choices to follow Jesus. I believed. I could talk the talk. I needed to WALK the WALK – even on the weekends.  I joined a conservative faith community that was rich in tradition and strong in holy habits.  The fellowship of the close-knit group was unmatched. The believers there invested time and energy in helping me understand God’s Word. I learned so much in this season of life and thank God for putting people into my path to draw me to Him.

One of the biggest things I learned is that even with all of the holy habits, fellowship, and accountability, I still sinned.  As much as I wanted to ‘be good’, I couldn’t. I wasn’t. And it took my early adult years to figure out that God doesn’t want me to ‘be good’. He wants me forgiven. This is why He brought us Jesus. In my youth I found myself categorizing sin and thought mine was the worst – if I could just stop those major sins, then I would be acceptable in God’s eyes. It took a lot of years to really believe that ALL sin is unrighteousness in God’s eyes. While sins may have greater or lesser consequences on earth – the sin itself is all the same: separation from God, no matter how big or small.

During this time of growth, the elder of our church, a kind and sweet man named Ervin, would point me back to Psalms 51. Over and over again, I would counsel with him, pour my heart out, trying to figure out why I would still from time to time fall back into those old sinful ways and make bad decisions.  He was so patient with me, and would read this scripture with me.  Even though it was twenty years ago, I can clearly recall our conversations.  He would encourage me to go home and pray the prayers that David did, a man who loved God so much and would still find himself in a mess of sin. And just like David, I would weap and mourn over my sins and ask God for forgiveness.  My quest to “be good” was a fruitless journey – and through prayers like Psalm 51, I found that a broken heart for my sin drew me closer to Him more than my checklist of ‘being good’ ever did.  As C.S. Lewis said: God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants US.

Today, on Holy Saturday, the time between Jesus’ death on the cross, and His victory over the grave tomorrow, I can’t help but put myself there and walk through the range of emotions.

It is our sins against God that crucified Jesus that Friday vs. 4 and David calls his own sin what it is – evil.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;

I wonder how quickly we would have realized this and sought forgiveness and change. Would it have been the very next day, on Saturday?  Would we have prayed vs. 10?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

And then to wake up Sunday morning and learn that HE IS ALIVE! Would we really believe? Would we spend the rest of our days living in the JOY that salvation brings (vs. 10)?

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

How would our lives be different if we lived everyday with the utmost JOY for Jesus conquering the grave and the utmost JOY for our salvation?

The King Who Wins

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 8 and Psalm 40

Hello Monday! Are you looking for signs of spring? Each morning I look for fresh green buds in our front yard or any other sign of new life. This time of year leading up to Easter is always sort of dreary. Christ’s death is eminent and there is a heaviness that comes with recounting the days before his burial and resurrection. Of course our reading today pre-dates the birth and death of Christ by about one thousand years. David’s rise to power began around the year 1003 BC. Today we hear about the fulfillment of God’s promise to defeat all of the enemies of the Israelites. David defeats the Philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites and entire armies of 22,000 men. He takes their chariot horses, weapons and money and then makes them his servants. So basically everything is going right for ol’ David. All the Israelites loved him:

“All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them.” 2 Samuel 3:36

Kind of a hard thing to hear on a Monday morning right? I have to be honest, when I first read this chapter I thought, “must be nice to conquer and plunder every enemy you face!” We all have that person (or two) in our life that seem to win every battle no matter how big or small. They effortlessly rise to power in their workplace and are successful in their personal life. All the people take note and are pleased! And you are left feeling a little jelly and maybe even a smidge resentful. Now, if I’m just talking about myself here, I hope you’ll take my confession and pray for me to mature in my faith! If on the other hand, you’ve ever struggled with the patience required to God to fulfill a promise then stay with me! Verse 15 says this:

 “David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.” 2 Samuel 8:15

 This is an important clue about the character of King David. Yes, he pleased his people but not because he tried to satisfy them. Instead, he showed them in all of his actions that he was trying to please God. Often, those that try their hardest to become popular never make it. Spending our time and money on devising ways to gain acceptance with our peers is fruitless. God wants us to spend our time striving to do what is right and just. King David’s reign was characterized by doing what was just for his people. Justice means interpreting the law and administering consequences with mercy and respect. David became a trusted leader among his followers because they respected his convictions. After some dedicated study of today’s word I came around to truly appreciating King David for his integrity and commitment to fulfilling his covenant promise with God. Through more reflection and prayer I understood that justice is not always the same as fairness. God doesn’t deal in fairness. Some will have riches, some will be poor. Some will have love and companionship, others will be alone. God fulfills His promises and reveals them in His time. We are not kings and queens and we won’t win every battle. We can trust God to give us the authority we need, in his time, to do the work that he wants us to do.

I encourage you to read Psalm 40 today in its entirety. It’s a perfect companion to His message in 2 Samuel 8. It begins like this:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand…” Psalm 40

 

Standing on the Promises

2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 39

With a gapped tooth grin from ear to ear, I handed my mom an egg carton jewelry box on Mother’s Day, over thirty years ago.  It was a soft yellow styrofoam carton, that was covered with paint, paper shapes and flower pipe cleaners.  It was BEAUTIFUL! I had worked so diligently on her special gift, and she proudly displayed it on her dresser and put all of her treasures in it… I was so proud to give her something so beautiful that she could see and use every day.

David, he sure loved His God. In a similar way, we read in 2 Samuel 7, how he wanted to build something special for the Lord to dwell. It sure made sense to me – David’s living in a beautiful cedar home, and he wanted something even better for God. We know God cares about details, order, reverence, and respect, and this seemed right in line.  But God’s ways are always above our ways, and while I believe David’s heart was in the right place, the Lord used it as an opportunity to reveal his future plans and make a covenant with him.  Instead of David building a house for the Lord, the Lord outlines the eternal house (kingdom) that He will build through David and his heirs.

God later refers to this in Psalms 89:3 as:

“I have made a covenant

with my chosen one.”

God promises to raise up David’s offspring, establish their kingdom forever, and they will build a house for the Lord’s name. This promise, the foretelling of Jesus, is an early picture of God’s future plans for the Messiah.

God makes this covenant, with full knowledge of the future. He knows what David’s choices will be in the years to come.  From times of obedience, to times of sin, God’s perfect ability to bring discipline and steadfast love is unmatched on this earth.

The second half of this chapter is David’s bewildered response to God’s promise to Him. He has been forgiven, protected, guided, changed, and God just told him He will do even MORE than that for David and his offspring! The soft heart of David, full of humility and love for the Lord, is one I want to emulate more consistently.

Thinking back to times when my heart was softest and focused on closeness with God, several instances come to mind:

  • the ‘first love” feelings of Jesus overwhelmed me when I first became a Christian
  • seasons of deep repentance, forgiveness, and gratitude
  • God answered prayers with my newborn daughter’s spina bifida and surgeries
  • discovering a new truth or lesson in the Word

I can go back to those moments and feelings that nothing else in the world mattered – God was with me and would be with me in the future, and I was firmly standing on that promise.

When I stumble across an old journal entry or something written down during those time, it is so faith affirming to see God’s work in my life. The book of Psalms often reads like David’s own journal entries of God’s promises, God’s deliverances, God’s protection. David loved proclaiming what God has done and will do in his life. He believed it, and he stood firm on those truths.

Are you standing firm in the promise God has given you? A promise of a life with him forever, filled with love and joy, where there will be no more tears and death. He is the perfect promise keeper.  When the world around you fails, His promises never fail.

Wait on the Lord

1 Samuel 26 and Psalms 27

1 Samuel 26 reads like a repeat of 1 Samuel 24, that we explored two days ago with Jennifer Armstrong.  The circumstances are two different events, although  similar, with Saul once again pursuing David. David has another opportunity to kill him, yet he shows mercy for the second time.  The picture Jennifer painted of choosing reconciliation over revenge, and trusting God’s authority, is applicable to this chapter as well.

I love how Psalms 27 so clearly describes David’s experiences outlined in 1 Samuel. He shows us that putting the Lord at the center of his life removes his fears (verse 1). Surrounded by enemy armies, he declares his confidence in God’s protection (verse 2-3). Even when David had the opportunity to take control, kill his enemy, he chooses to show mercy and allow God to work how He will.  TWICE!

Like David, we can trust God to deal with our enemies. Do you have a Saul in your life that you need to commit to the Lord’s hands?  He is the supreme authority, the righteous judge, and the ultimate miracle worker.  As a mentor once told me, “Let that go… it’s above your pay grade. That’s work that the Lord will do”.

I’m so encouraged by David’s cries out to the Lord in this Psalm, seeking wisdom and leadership (verse 11) in the middle of his drama. He chooses to WAIT for the Lord, even when under duress.

In contrast, my instinct is to take action. The Lord continues to give me opportunities to be patient and wait on Him. I’m a problem-solver, coming up with a mental action plan for the 12 “what-if” scenarios I create in my mind for any given situation. Inaction can make me uneasy, even when I know that immediate action isn’t always the best solution.  Waiting – whether it’s on direction from the Lord, or for my kids to get in the car – does not come easy.

I can think of a big season of waiting in my life, while handling hurts at the hands of others. God used this time to grow my trust in Him, He provided more wisdom, and delivered hope.  He protected my heart from seeking revenge, and in time, turned it toward reconciliation.  Had I taken immediate action, the outcome would be very different.  While the waiting can be the hardest part, in hindsight, we can see the beautiful work God does. For me, more time brought more truth.  And more time and truth brought more healing.

Lord, Thank you for being a righteous judge.  Please give us an ear to hear your direction and a heart to follow. Help us to know the difference of when you are leading us to wait and when you are leading us to action. Amen 

Who Shall Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

Today’s readings come from 1 Samuel 14 and Psalm 15.

Yes, it’s mid February. And yes, we are still listening to Christmas Carols. Earlier this week my four year old son asked me to pause the song and wanted to know what the third verse of Away in a Manger meant – “how do we fit us for heaven”?  I tried to explain it in the simplest way possible that a tiny (yet growing) mind may understand:

  • God is so holy and perfect in every way.
  • We must be made pure and clean to be with Him in heaven.
  • We sin and are unclean, but because Jesus is perfect, when He died on the cross to pay for our sin, He makes us clean.
  • Our time here on earth is to truly believe in Jesus, every day love Him with all of our heart. This is how we “get ready” or “get fit” to live with God in heaven.

Psalm 15 takes us through a much better description of who can be in God’s presence, in His holy place, or “fit for heaven”.  And WOW, it’s convicting and motivating! I can’t wait to read this scripture with my little guy as a follow up to his question.

Psalm 15

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

While this isn’t a checklist to enter heaven, if it were, we would all fail.  We are all disqualified at the very first qualification: blameless. Because we have all sinned, we all have blame. But Jesus took our blame and shame that day on Calvary. Our belief in Him is what allows us to dwell with Him in His holy place.

As I continue studying the different verse meanings and praying through each one, the Holy Spirit is challenging me to rid and repent of any of these sins in my life.  One characteristic that really stands out is the end of verse four. Am I able to keep my word and commitments even when it hurts?  Am I unchanging even when it’s hard?

I’m humbled that my God still loves me through my failings, continues to cleanse me through His perfect Son, and keeps calling me to a deeper communion with Him.  I can’t help but think of another kids’ song I’m thankful for:

He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be,
He’s still working on me. 

Are you there?

 

Todays Reading

I Samuel 9, Psalms 10

Have you ever been in a position in your life that you are asking God “Are you there?” It could be during a difficult examination; receiving some bad news; being at the bedside of a loved one; or the passing of a close relative. We all have at one time or another asked the question “God, are you there? God do you care?” The answer is hard to contemplate during these times because were are human and want to have the results instantaneously.

This week we will be starting the Lenten season of reflection and insight, and as we enter this season we seek a new and profound relationship with God. Some may sacrifice items or time to allow them to pursue Christ more. Some may commit to a particular practice as prayer, devotion, or mediation to connect. But during this time some of us will have immediate connection with God and others it may take some time. Through these time of intentional reflection or devotions God is present and He is continually mindful of us, his children. God is a father that is in tuned with His people and knows our desires, pains, and afflictions before we are aware of them. We may feel that He is distant, but He is actually right beside us in these most vulnerable times.

In my own experiences , I have asked the questions of “Are you there?” many times. The ones that I remember very vividly are: Exactly seven years ago this week, my son, Ollie was admitted to the hospital and my wife and I had no idea the pain and suffering he was experiencing. At six weeks old, Oliver had a 21-day stay at OSF in Peoria and we did not know what each day would entail. We as first time parents did not know if our son would survive each following day. “God, Are you there?”   Four years ago, on the day that my daughter, Ruby, was born and she was immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to her having several conditions that were potentially life threating. My wife was not able to see my daughter until 12 hours after her birth. I went to the NICU with Ruby and held her hand the entire time. I prayed constantly “ God, Are you there?” Last year, my daughter Nadya, had an accident at a store and had several issues with consciousness and alertness.    I rushed her to the hospital and waited with her as she underwent test and exams to ensure that she did not have a concussion or seizures. As I wait, I ask “ Are you there?” Now as I reflect on these powerful and impactful times in my life, I can assure you that the last portion of the Psalm is true:

Psalms: 10-16-18

The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

 

In I Samuel, the 9th Chapter, we see that God knows the direction and the timing of all the things that are for His good. In this chapter each detail that is explained has been already set into motion by the Most High and we all have the ability to acknowledge and accept Him. He directs Saul to a certain region in response to one mission, but God has a different plan and purpose for him. Samuel has been given insight at the exact time and location that he will meet Saul. Then the meeting of the two allows each one to fulfill God’s purpose. God gives us the options and we have to ask for discernment to make the best decision.

So the question is “Are you there?”, the answer is “Yes, are you listening and are you aware of my presence?” Throughout the bible, the Spirit of God is present at all places and is now present of the believers. We now have to ask ourselves “ Are we ready to acknowledge Him?”

Have  a blessed week.

 

 

 

Rejoice, Repent, Relinquish

1 Samuel 2 & Psalms 3

In today’s readings we follow three attitudes and approaches to God from three different people (Hannah, the Sons of Eli, David). 1 Samuel outlines Hannah’s song of praise and then in contrast, the choices of the worthless sons of Eli.  Turning to Psalms we find David’s prayer of trust in God.

After years of praying and waiting, Hannah is blessed with a son, Samuel, and her response is one of genuine joy and gratitude. She declares in this prayer-song who the Lord is, what He has done, and what He will do.  His knowledge and judgement are perfect: He makes the feeble strong, feeds the hungry, brings babies to the barren, poor become rich, exalts the lowly, and protects His faithful. Her worship to the Lord with her words is a foreshadowing of Mary’s song in Luke 1, praising God for who He is and what He has done.

Meanwhile, Eli’s sons continue to disobey God and are called worthless men who do not know the Lord. One of the transgressions detailed is their taking advantage and dishonoring the sacrifices to God from the people. Eli rebukes his sons, and instead of responding with sorrow and repentance for their sin, they continue in a sinful lifestyle – even sleeping with servant women at the temple entrance. They demonstrate complete disregard for Eli’s admonishment, and most of all for God. They are arrogant in their positions as Eli’s sons and ‘servants of the priest’, and it is known among Israel.

Fast-forward to Psalm 3, David’s prayer-song to God of the events unfolding (that come later in 2 Samuel 15-16).  David’s son Absalom has created a conspiracy against David and has turned the people against him. As David flees from Jerusalem to the Jordan river, he cries out to the Lord. Verses 1 & 2 outline the reality of David’s situation and what he is up against – many, MANY enemies that are against him and almost taunting his faith and salvation. I love verse 3, the turning point in this song, beginning with “But YOU, Oh Lord…”, David’s hope and fear is in the Lord, not in man. He declares God’s protection, answering, and sustaining, even when he is surrounded. He turns it over to God and His trust is in Him alone.

These three scenarios leave us with examples of how we can respond to God.  Both Hannah and David declare WHO God is, what He has done, and what He will do.  One after experiencing a miracle and the other in a plea for protection and prayer of trust.  And finally, we have an example that leads to destruction: responding to God with continued sin and rebellion. I can’t read these accounts without examining my own response to God.

In times of blessings and miracles right in front of me, do I stop and praise God for His perfect provision and timing? What a beautiful example of rejoicing Hannah gives us! Whether it be something small that the world may brush off as coincidence, or something much bigger that is clearly divine, do I give God all the glory? Do I continually believe in WHO God is and WHAT He will do?

In times of Godly correction, can I soften my heart to repent or will I rebel even more? Maybe it’s a prompting from the Holy Spirit showing me my sin, a sister in Christ sharing a truth I need to hear, or a scripture speaking right to me.  I can look back at times when my response was much more like Eli’s worthless sons, rationalizing and justifying my actions, instead of turning to God with sorrow for my sin.

In times of desperation, like David, can I turn my fear into faith? Do I say ‘But YOU, Oh Lord…’ when faced with trials that seem unfair? Am I willing to believe that His judgement and justice is best?  David could have fought to stay in Jerusalem and clear his name, instead he chose to protect his followers and flee to keep them out of harm’s way. Can I praise Him in the midst of fear and heartache? Am I willing to let God fight my battles and relinquish the control I think I have?

Lord, you ARE the Almighty, King of all Kings. Your ways are far beyond my understanding. Thank you for showing me grace and patience as I repent for my sin and rebellion. Please give me the rejoicing heart of Hannah and the relinquishing trust of David. Amen.

Psalm 145

Our reading for today is Psalm 145, and after reading it through, it is simply perfect for the day after Christmas. Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise, written by David to his Lord:

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord preserves all who love him, but the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145)

In this psalm, David lists several reasons why God is worthy of our praise: He is great. His greatness is unsearchable. He does mighty and wondrous works. He is abundantly good. He is righteous. He is gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. His love is steadfast (I love this one! – It reminds me of the picture of an anchor). He is good to all. He has mercy on us. He is powerful. His kingdom is everlasting. He is faithful and kind. He upholds the fallen. He is a provider. He satisfies our deepest desires. He is near. He saves. He preserves all who love him. That’s quite a list, right?!

David’s response to all of who God is is simply this: praise. David will meditate on God’s works, and in response, David will declare God’s greatness and sing aloud of His righteousness. David says that he will extol God, and that he will bless Him and praise His name forever. David praises God for the work He has done in David’s life, and for who He is.

Perhaps this is a good time, as we near the end of 2017, to take some time to write out your praises to God. Consider what He has done for you this year, and praise Him for the times of blessing and the times of stretching and growing. Consider His attributes, the aspects of His character, and praise Him for those. And consider that when we praise Him, we link arms with those around the world who are doing the exact same thing. We join in that chorus of praise. Merry Christmas!

The Best-laid Plans

People, by-in-large, are good at setting and achieving goals.  Day-in-day-out billions of people arrive to work on-time, remember to do more things than they forget, have a roof to sleep under and manage to feed and clothe themselves.  People, by-in-large, are used to setting goals, making plans and seeing them through to some measure of success.  This can be a dangerous thing.  (Proverbs 4:12, Proverbs 16:25)

In the 139 Psalm, King David proclaims God’s omniscience (v1-6), omnipresence (v7-12), and omnipotence (v13-18), as well as David’s own obeisance (v19-24).  King David has reached a point where his perspective of himself and his abilities compared to God’s are right.  It is beautiful to witness.  

Throughout scripture, God does amazing things for people as soon as they realize what David realized.  Have you ever found your heart pouring out to God saying some version of, “I’m done.  I don’t want to do it my way ever again. It always ends up hurting. God: I want what you want. Lead me. Thy will be done.”?

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
– Psalm 139:23-24

Painful outcomes or trials can leave us feeling this way.  The danger is when we have “success” in our plans.  Success is not a history of achieving personal goals.  Success and achieving personal goals are not by default the same thing.

We have wisdom when we see things as God sees things.  In my estimation, the key question to reflect on and be sure our heart has the true answer to is this:

What is God’s definition of success?

This holiday season I encourage everyone confronted with the question “Who is successful?” whether spoken, worn, driven, sat in, or otherwise to consider God’s definition.  To be prepared the truth.  How can we press into the truth and be a blessing to others?