|Volume 23 Number 9 September 2021
Martha Lynn Rushmore
What is success? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “success” as “favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.” What does the word “eminence” mean? Merriam-Webster says of “eminence,” “a position of prominence or superiority.”
We all want to be successful. Unfortunately, the success we want could be the best education at the best university for ourselves and for our children, the best job with the most pay, wealth, a new car, the biggest house with all the amenities, boats, a vacation home or any material gain we can think of to make things nicer for ourselves.
I agree that it is pleasant to have nice material things, but this is not the success to which I am referring. I am talking about our success spiritually. Success spiritually is worth more than any silver, gold or other worldly possessions we can accumulate. We are told in Matthew 6:19-20 to lay our treasures in Heaven, not on the earth where moth and rust decay and where thieves break in and steal. So, you see, our priorities often are in the wrong place.
We are told in the parable of the rich fool found in Luke 12:17-19, “And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So, he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” He thought he had it made and could eat, drink and be merry for the rest of his life. However, God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?”
We are told in Matthew 6:33 to seek first the kingdom of God. Our first thoughts of success should be to always put God and His church first. God is to be above all – our spouses, our parents, our children or any worldly thing. In Matthew 10:37, we are told if we love our families more than the Lord, we are not worthy of Him.
I do not understand parents who say they love their children, and yet, they turn their backs on the Lord and His church to raise their children to live in the world like the devil wants them to live. If they really loved their children, why would they want them to be lost and spend eternity in Hell? I realize that when these children become adults, it is up to them to choose obedience or disobedience to the Lord.
True success – the success that really matters now and eternally – is following the Word of the Lord and rendering obedience to Him. Thereby, someday, we can spend eternity with our God in Heaven.
This Too Shall Pass
– When I Drink It
We as followers of Jesus Christ must bring every thought into captivity to God’s will as Jesus did. Our Lord suffered incomprehensible agony as He faced the cross! In Matthew 26:42, He prayed, “…O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (NKJV). Did we get that? Is this submission to the zenith? There are virtually countless lessons for us to learn from the example of our Lord and Savior before, during and after His crucifixion. He said on one occasion in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” We mortals will do well to embrace that statement of eternal truth by faith and stand more in awe of our Lord and Savior!
When we are made to come eyeball to eyeball with our own readiness to submit to the will of God, how do we respond? We sometimes take the approach that we are fine in our relationship with God and Christ and there is nothing else to do. This attitude serves no worthwhile purpose. It stunts our spiritual growth, resulting in spiritual deformities. The only way out is through, and that way out is through Christ. Romans 8:37 declares, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
What ‘cups’ of continued spiritual discipline are being put to our lips that we have yet to sip – not to mention drink? For this article, we will address briefly three disciplines: (1) The control of the tongue, (2) reading vs. studying and (3) being good stewards.
Controlling the tongue is a daily spiritual self-discipline – confronting and containing how we use our tongues – because we talk every day! James 3:1-11 paints a picture of the uses of the tongue – most of which are outrightly condemned. James nails it in verse 6 where it reads, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity [unrighteousness]. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.” This little piece of flesh behind our teeth is the deadliest organ in our body! Tongue lashing others with malicious, slanderous and injurious words is a total unknown to the genuine child of God. What can be done? The only way out of unbridled use of the tongue is through our Lord Jesus Christ. We must understand that the infallible answer is found only in God’s Word. We must pray continually for Him to help us tame our tongues. Proverbs 21:23 puts it like this: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.”
Reading versus studying is as different as day and night. Reading and studying the Bible are both spiritual disciplines, but the successful accomplishment of both comes quite differently. Some have asked the question, “Which version of the Bible should I have?” The answer was, “The one that you will read.” That being decided, a proper understanding is vital of the words, passages and books of the Bible being read. Otherwise, God’s Word cannot be correctly analyzed, since we must let Scripture interpret Scripture. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). What about our Bible reading habits? Do we even have any Bible reading habits? Have we set goals to read a chapter, a book, and yes, the entire Bible? The only way out of biblical ignorance is through an initial, external reading to gain the basic knowledge of God’s revealed Word.
Studying God’s Word, unlike merely reading it, takes hours, days, weeks, months and years! Those of us who are avid readers in some cases become avid students of God’s Word. Peter called that growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18). How do we grow in grace? To grow in grace is to grow in holy and godly living. Jesus Christ will extend His favor to believers as they live faithfully in Him. The Christian life can never take on a holding pattern. “Holding our own” is not an acceptable walk with Christ. How do we break free of this shackle? The only way out is through the Lord’s favor – continually extended to us to the degree that we continue to pursue knowledge of Him.
Being a good steward, a good guardian of God’s daily and continual blessings, is a spiritual discipline that is especially intentional. God gives us everything – literally. All of us absolutely need food, clothing and shelter. Yet, some have more than they could consume in 100+ lifetimes, while others are dying of hunger and subject to the elements day and night. What happened? God provides for all. He is not responsible for the mismanagement of what He provides for all. [Rather than blaming those who lack, we who have been wonderfully blessed have a divine obligation (Luke 3:11) to enable the less fortunate to take care of themselves (Galatians 6:1, 5). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
My mother made several trips to visit while we lived in California. One day as she and I were standing in the kitchen preparing food, she said, “Ya’ll put enough food down this garbage disposal to feed me.” Her words stung me to the core of my being, and that was over 40 years ago! I knew how little we had growing up, and I also knew how little, in comparison to me at that point in my life, she had. To this day, sometimes when I put food down the disposal, her words ring in my ears. Some of us in American are spoiled and greedy. We do not have the slightest idea of what it means to be without anything. How do we move from such a selfish mindset? The only way out is through being transformed by the renewing of our minds in Christ. As Christians, God’s expectation is that we will handle all the goods and services that we enjoy from His hand as our Creator in a thankful, generous and purposeful manner. Proverbs 10:4 cries out, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
The ‘cups’ of spiritual discipline are challenging, indeed, because they are perpetual until we die or until Christ returns. Our Lord and Savior had instantaneous obedience and unwavering trust in God to know what was best in His life to accomplish our eternal salvation. We, too, will become better servants of God when we do as Jesus Christ did when He uttered, “…O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”