How To Achieve Success In Life

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Pastor Mark Mikels – June 14, 2009
Joshua 5:13-6:20

Intro … On this Sunday–this High School Graduate Recognition Sunday,
I’ve chosen the topic:
“How To Achieve Success In Life”.

It’s a topic that, of course, interests far more than just the three young men that we have recognized this morning!

But before we discuss “How To Achieve Success In Life”, let me give you a definition of “Success In Life”.

“Success in Life”, simply put, means living in such a way that you consistently feel the Smile of God’s Approval upon you – there is no greater feeling for a child of God.

Now the truth is … Those who feel God’s Smile of Approval upon their lives will frequently feel Man’s Smile of Approval as well, for the life that pleases God is always a life that benefits and blesses those around us.

Those who consistently feel God’s Smile of Approval upon their lives exhibit a level of contentment and satisfaction in their lives that is unknown by those outside the family of God and, sad to say, by many who would claim to be inside the family of God as well.

This kind of success in life is not automatic – it is not obtained by every Christian! It requires some “want to” and some “know how” if it is to be attained.

Thus our discussion this morning:

“How To Achieve Success In Life”

In answering our question of the day, let me draw your attention to a particular Bible Story – an account of an amazing success – the triumph of the Israelites over the fortified, impregnable city of Jericho.

Let’s look at it together … (Joshua 15:3-16:20)

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place
where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and
no one came in.

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along
with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men.
Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing
the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the
people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will
go up, every man straight in.”

So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the LORD and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the people, “Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going
ahead of the ark of the LORD.”

When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the LORD’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew
the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the LORD carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spent the night there.

Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the
ark of the LORD and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and
the rear guard followed the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets kept sounding.
So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times
in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! The city and all that is
in it are to be devoted to the LORD.

Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.”

When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet,
then the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in,
and they took the city.

In this account I find a fascinating sequence that Joshua followed as he led
the people in this incredible endeavor.

It’s a foolproof sequence that will bring success to every child of God who
follows it – a foolproof sequence that, when followed, will bring God’s Smiling Approval.

It’s a sequence that involves Five Non-Negotiable Steps …

Step #1 …
“take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy”
(Joshua 5:15)

This is the only starting place for a life that would know godly success – “Acknowledge the Greatness of God”; surrender yourself to his greatness and
to His Authority over all aspects of your life.

This is actually a step of worship!

Success in life begins with this Worshipful Confession –

“Nothing else has the claim upon my life and allegiance that God has!
I bow my heart daily before Him. I stand on Holy Ground every moment of
every day for I live in His Presence – He is with me!”

Acknowledging God’s Greatness keeps us from falling down and worshipping
the things and the people who surround us – it keeps us focused and committed.

Step #2 in this success sequence …
“See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.”
(Joshua 6:2)

Actually, Joshua couldn’t “see” anything of the sort. With his natural, human vision he could only see a city surrounded by immense walls of stone. It must
have looked to him like he was preparing to attack one of the pyramids of Egypt.

Here’s the point … God’s perspective is always different than our own natural perspective. God saw the deed as already done. God was declaring a reality
that far exceeded Joshua’s experience.

Spiritual success comes as we forsake our own perspective (our own “take”
on things) and adopt God’s Perspective.

To a child of God today the Father might say …

“See, I have placed my Spirit within you –
His fruit is yours for the taking.”

“See, I have made my Grace available to you –
It will enable you to transform any circumstance into
something notable and commendable.”

“See, I have entered into this tragic situation;
I will work in it and through it to accomplish something
that will be for your ultimate good.”

Adopting God’s Perspective is an absolutely crucial step if we would know success.

Step #3 in this success sequence …
“March around the city … then have all the people give a loud shout”
(Joshua 6:3-5)

God’s Word speaks explicitly to every area and circumstance of life:
our work life; our love life; our family life; our church life; our financial life.

The Apostle Paul explained to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16-17) that …

“All Scripture is God-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness so that the child of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good work.

He had previously exhorted Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15) to …

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who
correctly handles the Word of Truth.”

We simply will not experience the Smile of God upon our lives if we fail to
make ourselves familiar with His Instructions …

God has not given us the option of “figuring it out for ourselves” …

We do not have the freedom to come up with our own plan of attack when
facing the challenges of life.

God has already provided the Instruction Manual for every type of situation that we will find ourselves in.

Success in life depends upon us making ourselves familiar with it.

Step #4 in this success sequence points out an absolutely obvious fact:

In order to be successful in life – in order to feel God’s Smile of Approval upon our lives we must …
“So Joshua called the priests and said to them …”
(Joshua 6:6-19)

Here’s where the rubber meets the road …

Here’s where the surrendered child of God who is seeing with the perspective of God and who is understanding the plan of God steps forward in obedient faith.

Here’s where the Child of God says:

“If he/she is unsaved and/or uncommitted, I cannot allow myself to become emotionally involved, let alone consider marriage.”

“If it will mean sacrificing my commitment to my family,
I will not pursue it.”

“If it will require me to do something that will violate God’s Word,
I will not be part of it.”

“If the clear teaching of Scripture indicates it,
I will do it regardless.”

Obedience is an absolutely essential component in God’s Sequence for Success … It has never been enough to simply “Know the Word” – “knowing” must culminate in “doing” …

Many years after this incident had become ancient history, James would write “faith, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” … and (obviously) “dead faith” does not lead to God’s approval. (James 1:17)

But if we eagerly and obediently take Steps 1-4, we will be led naturally and gloriously to Step #5 …

“every man charged straight in and they took the city”
(Joshua 6:20)

Living obediently to the Word of God guarantees the kind of “Success in Life” that we are talking about this morning …

Living obediently to the Word of God guarantees that we will feel the “Smile of God” upon our lives – we will know that we are living lives that please Him and that will please us.

Ultimately His Pleasure and our Life Success will be acknowledged when we enter his Heavenly Presence and He announces …

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness.”
Matthew 25:21

Or as the Apostle Peter put it …

“If you do these things … you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 1: 10-11)

God wants his children to know success …

He wants us to feel His Smile of Approval every day of our lives …

He wants us to experience true contentment and satisfaction in life.

He went on record a long time ago when he announced through the prophet Jeremiah (Final Thot) …

Final Thot …
“For I know the PLANS I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to PROSPER you and not to HARM you,
plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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