Success is defined as r
Getting the corner office, a 6 or 7 figure salary, making the team, win the game, buy the luxury car, purchase the cool truck, move into a
However, success God’s way characterizes the above definition differently. This month’s “workout” explores the lives of four biblical women who achieved success by living out God’s will. Furthermore, we explore ways to find success in our own lives that is pleasing to God.
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SUCCESS GOD’S WAY: DEBORAH
The Israelites were oppressed.
The Israelites conquered the Promised Land (Canaan) given to them by God and known as Israel today.
Despite the Israelites God-given victory, they didn’t follow God’s instructions once they settled in the land. By allowing the enemy to live among them, the Israelites were constantly battling to maintain power. Despite the people’s disobedience, God raised judges to guide His people and overcome their enemies.
This is where Deborah comes into the picture. She is the fourth and only woman judge of Israel. There was a national crisis during her judgeship. King Jabin, a Canaanite king, conquered the Hebrew people. Additionally, God’s people were cruelly oppressed by the Jabin’s military commander, Sisera, who lead well trained and heavily armed troops.
It was time to reclaim the land.
Holding court this lady judge settled internal disputes under the Palm of Deborah, and it is here God spoke. Unlike Samson, who disobeyed God’s laws, and Gideon, whose faith faltered, Deborah was faithful in all aspects of her life and leadership. Sending for Israel’s military leader, Barak, she delivers the following directive from God:
“The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands’” Judges 4: 6-7 (NIV).
Deborah knows her success depends on God, however, Barak seems to depend more on Deborah than God. His answer:
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judges 4:8).
Reluctantly, Deborah agrees to go with Barak but tells him that the victory over Sisera goes to a woman. Thinks she means herself? Take a look at this three-minute video for the answer.
So the victory over Sisera was not Deborah’s but a woman who took advantage of an opportunity. When the commander arrived at Jael’s tent in the hope that her husband would help him, subterfuge and quick thinking allowed her to kill this enemy with a tent stake. As a side note, pitching tents was women’s work. Therefore Jael knew how to drive a peg.
After the victory, Deborah and Barak sang praises to God. The song ended:
“LORD, may all your enemies die like Sisera! But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power” (Judges 5:31 NLT).
What do we learn from Deborah?
Deborah sought God for direction and didn’t take all the glory. God chose another woman for the final victorious move. Nevertheless, Deborah accepted God’s will without rancor.
Another perspective that is important to note, Deborah
Often men resist leadership, especially in the home. Nonetheless, like Deborah, we should encourage men to lead and resist our natural inclination to take control.
Read about Deborah in Judges Chapters 4 and 5.
SUCCESS GOD’S WAY: DORCAS
Dorcas means gazelle, a picture of delicate beauty. Social animals, gazelles live together in large herds. Befitting her name, Dorcas is sociable and hospitable.
Only seven verses in Scripture describe this woman, but we can glean a lot from them. Her kindness and charitable acts define her life. Practicing her faith openly in perilous times attest to her strong convictions and trust in Jesus.
Inviting and peaceful, her home was a place where women enjoyed visiting. We often hear the expression “man’s man.” In like manner, I think of Dorcas as a “woman’s woman.”
Loved by the community for her kind heart and benevolent nature, Dorcas likely launched the first Christian nonprofit, using her talents as a seamstress to provide clothing for the poor, especially widows.
Was she successful? Well, upon her death people grieved mightily. Dorcas’ friends loved her so much they were unwilling to give up. Peter, Jesus’ disciple, was performing miracles at a nearby city; therefore they sent for him, in hopes he might help. When he arrived the Bible tells us that:
“The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them” (Acts 9: 39b).
So she was loved by others, but is that success? Proverbs 22:1 tell us:
A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold.
Additionally, there are Dorcas Societies operating today! What other nonprofit or business is 2,000 + years old!
Yes, I’d say she was successful, God’s way!
What do we learn from Dorcas?
Not only kind, Dorcas was also a friend to women. Instead, of being a women’s worst enemy and adding to the stereotype that women are manipulative, mean-spirited, and deceptive her home was a place where women came together for authentic love, care, and support.
Although we know little about this seamstress, there is a sense of tranquility surrounding Dorcas. Real joy and fulfillment come from a relationship with and service to Jesus Christ, and Dorcas lived her life this way.
Read Dorcas’ story in Acts 9: 36-42.
SUCCESS GOD’S WAY: PRISCILLA
This video provides a two-minute overview about this remarkable woman.
Never mentioned in Scripture without her husband, Priscilla was part of a team – one that did much to spread the news of Jesus Christ to the world.
In today’s world, being tied to a husband makes a woman a failure. After all, in the 21st-century successful women are independent.
But does God see Priscilla as a failure?
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).
Studying Scripture, learning from Paul, and sacrificing the comforts of home to travel with Paul show’s her commitment to the Lord. This couple instituted home churches wherever they went, additionally, years later, they hosted a home church in Rome. In Romans 16: 3-5 Paul thanks them for risking their lives to save him. Now I call that commitment.
This couple played a significant role in spreading the gospel and establishing the Christian church. Worldly success is just for this world, but Priscilla’s work had eternal implications. Think she was successful in God’s eyes?
What do we learn from Priscilla?
That our house is not just a place to live and find comfort, but a venue to evangelize, which reaps eternal benefits for ourselves and others.
Read Priscilla’s story in Acts 18.
SUCCESS GOD’S WAY: LYDIA
Lydia was a dealer in expensive purple cloth, often worn by nobility or royalty. Respected in the community, she probably conducted business with the well-to-do. Translation, she was rich!
However, Lydia, a Gentile woman, spent her Sabbath mornings with other women outside the city of Philippi praying to the God of the Jews. A searcher of the truth, God rewarded Lydia’s seeking. Paul and Silas showed up at her prayer meeting one day, and she received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Immediately, she wanted to give back. Offering hospitality to the travelers, she all but begged them to accept. Do you suppose she hoped to learn more about her new faith if they stayed at her house? Like Priscilla, Lydia was committed to learn and grow in the Lord and use her home to further the cause.
What did we learn from Lydia?
Despite Lydia’s “secular” success of a thriving business and wealth, she had a humble heart. Open to hearing the truth, Lydia spent time in spiritual endeavors. Perhaps she understood that all good things come from God, and without God, anything we accomplish is worth nothing.
Read Lydia’s story in Acts 16: 13- 15, 40.
REFLECTIONS ON SUCCESS GOD’S WAY
Seek God. Notice that Deborah followed God into battle. She didn’t plan first and ask God to bless her strategy. She listened to God and followed His instruction. “Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His faith always” (Psalm 105:4 NIV).
Be kind. Don’t denigrate other women, particularly our sisters in Christ. After all, He created women, and this hurts God’s heart. Share with others in need and make your home a place of peace, authentic love, and support. In other words, develop a Dorcas style home and attitude. “Keep on loving each other as sisters.* Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
*Text says brothers
Display your faith. We are all smiles on Sunday morning. We teach Sunday school or volunteer for a project or ministry. Jesus is our priority at church. However, are we the same at home, work, and when we travel to far off places? Is our priority to lead others to Jesus wherever we are?
Additionally, does our faith show in every decision and action we take? Use Priscilla as an example and commit your entire life to Jesus. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
Remain humble. God does not honor a proud spirit. All successful endeavors (even those attained by nonbelievers) are by the grace of God. Someday all people will know this is true. Therefore, remember Lydia and seek God’s approval and not the world’s admiration. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).
Choose one of the four reflections above and take action to make it happen this month. For instance: Seek God’s voice for how you can meet a need, open your home to someone different from a typical guest, invite a nonbeliever to church, or humble yourself in some way. Another way to serve: Volunteer at Meals on Wheels or a food pantry. No time? Donate food, money, furniture, or clothes.
COMMENTS AND RESOURCES
If you want to read more about success God’s way, click here for an
Well, this is our third spiritual workout and as mentioned above if you missed the first two articles click here for information about this exercise routine and links to the first two articles.
Last month we discussed the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Did the study change your focus to lean more on the Spirit and less on the fruit? Anyone “catch” themselves practicing all nine fruits during February? Share your experiences by commenting below.
Of course, comments are welcome on Success God’s Way. Any additional insights for our readers on this subject?
As we enter the last month of the first quarter of the year, I pray that 2019 is a year of growth and happy times. Next month we examine some little-known facts about Easter. I think you’ll
Blessings until next time.