The Formula for Success

I have an exciting, life-altering formula that I can’t wait to share with you!
It comes with a guarantee – several, actually.
And the benefits are amazing!

How would you like these words to describe YOU?
– Joyful
– Successful children
– Blessed
– Wealthy in all the ways that matter
– Known for your good deeds
– Full of light
– Generous
– Compassionate
– In right standing with God and people
– Fair in all your business dealings
– Not overcome
– Long-remembered in a great way
– Never fearing bad news (not that it won’t come – but you won’t be afraid of it)
– Confident
– Fearless
– Triumphant
– Full of influence
– Honored

And when I say “formula”, that is truly what it is.
Very many temporal things in this life are “plug and chug” – I plug this in and get that out. (Soda and candy machines, online purchases, amount of time practicing leading to better ability to perform, etc.)

But very few eternal things are like that.
And let’s face it – everything in that list above is really about the eternal side of life.
The fact is that you are right now living “eternal life”.
Because YOU – the real you – is going to live forever.
With God.
Because you have accepted the gift of His Son, Jesus, taking your punishment on Himself when He died on the cross.
Or without God.
Because you have rejected that gift, believing you know better or have a better handle on eternity.
But either way, you are an eternal being.
Starting from conception.
And ending never.

But back to how eternal things are rarely “plug and chug”.
Prayer doesn’t work like that. I don’t get to plug in a certain amount of time spent or a certain sincerity level to get the result I want.
Salvation doesn’t work like that. I don’t get to plug in my good deeds or my comparison of myself to some other human and then receive eternal life.
Tough times don’t work like that. I don’t get to plug in a certain attitude or action and automatically get the end of my trial in return.
Even my words don’t work like that. I don’t get to say something and it automatically becomes so.
Because I am not God. I do not see the big picture. I am not perfect.

But this formula does work like that. Because it is a big-picture formula, relating directly to the forever-ness of it all.
And it really is “plug and chug”.

Or, put another way, it is conditional.
You CAN have the things on that list.
IF you do this one thing:

Fear the Lord.

How can I say that? I can’t.
But God says it in Psalm 112.
Here it is, emphasis added by me:

How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.
2 Their children will be successful everywhere;
an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
3 They themselves will be wealthy,
and their good deeds will last forever.
4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly.
They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.
5 Good comes to those who lend money generously
and conduct their business fairly.
6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.
9 They share freely and give generously to those in need.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.
They will have influence and honor.

What a list!
What benefits!

And I know one objection you may be voicing this very moment – that this makes life with God sound like it is all sunshine and roses – and it is not. And that is true. In fact, Jesus put it this way: “In this world you WILL have trouble – but I have overcome the world.” (John 16)  But let me point this out – all of the benefits in this list are about overcoming this world. And the writer of Hebrews expounded on that when he exhorted us to “Come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4) These benefits have to be viewed through the long-angle, wide-view lens of life. They don’t mean that you won’t have a flat tire today or that you won’t have to fight the urge to choke your co-worker – but they do mean that overall, this will be you.

IF.

IF you “fear the Lord”.
What does that mean? I am supposed to cower in a corner, constantly afraid of lightning strikes or the earth opening under my feet if I am not perfect?

Absolutely not.
After all, is that what you want from your children?
Do you want them to cower in your presence?
Always anticipating your wrath?
Afraid to be near you?
Are you always looking to punish them, seeking opportunities to inflict pain if they step out of line?
(If that does describe you, seek help. Don’t even finish reading this. Seek it now.)

Your Father in heaven is a good, good Dad.
He adores you!
He is crazy about you.
AND HE KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.
Because He made you.
And He sees every moment of time, past, present and future.
He sees it all.
And He knows the very best ways to guide you through it all.
He has been kind enough to lay it out in His Word.
How to live.
How to handle your money.
How to raise your kids.
How to do marriage well.
How to treat people who mistreat you.
How to treat your boss, no matter your job.
How to deal with your sexuality.
How to navigate through temptation.
How to dress – even how to handle alcohol and food!
And what to do when you blow it in any area.
It is ALL in there!

And fearing Him simply means taking Him at His Word – and then acting on it.
Even when you don’t like it.
When culture doesn’t like it.
When your friends and family disagree.
When it may cost you your job.
When the financial bottom line doesn’t makes sense.
When it is uncomfortable.
When it is painful.
Even then.

Valuing His opinion more than anyone else’s.
Seeking His approval more than anyone else’s.
Aligning your priorities with His.
THAT is fearing the Lord.

And, according to the Psalmist, it has some AMAZING benefits.

And it really is that simple in this complicated, messy, confusing world.
Seek God.
Read His Word.
Ask Him to help you understand it – and apply it.
Study it.
Where it confuses you, seek godly counsel from those you trust, those who can read it in its original language, those who have a track-record of faithfulness.
Believe it before you believe your Facebook feed.
Or your friends.
Or the media.
And just don’t be a hearer – or even just a believer of it – act on it.
Change your actions so that they match His Word.
Seek Him first. Choose to obey Him no matter what.

That’s your end of the deal.
That’s the formula for success – eternal success.
And He promises you an amazing, long-term benefit package in return!

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