Honour and Esteem

‘Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify themselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:14, 15).”’

When we esteem someone we respect and admire them; likewise when we honour them we regard them with great respect.

But who do we esteem and honour?

The answer will reveal something of ourselves; for the people we admire reflect our values and inclinations. If we love the world we esteem the world’s idols (1 John 5:21). We give them respect and honour; but if we love God and His people we abhor and despise what the world offers. Instead we give our greatest honour to the Son of God, whom we love and worship.

His Father confirmed His approval of Him when He declared, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17, 18),”’ but in great humility Jesus said of Himself, “If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing. It is My Father who honours Me (John 8:54).”

Because His Father honours Him, and for His great salvation, He deserves our greatest honour. At the end of time every person who has lived on earth will bow their knee to Him (Romans 14:11, 12). They will give to Him the honour and the glory He deserves.

Meanwhile men and women may seek honour and glory for themselves. They may esteem themselves highly, or they may believe they are insignificant and have no worth. They may even wish they had never been born; just like Job (Job 3:1-13) on account of his suffering, but unlike him with his steadfast faith( cf. 1:1; 19:25), they in their self-sufficiency and unbelief seek the temporary things of this world with its false gold and glitter. They admire their own kind, wishing they could be like their heroes whom they esteem. If only they could be like them, then they would bathe in glory and be happy.

How about us? Who or what do we esteem and honour?

Honour and Esteem in the World

At certain times of the year we see film stars, actors, singers and the like receiving awards and honours for what they do. Typically they love being in the spotlight as they receive their Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. It seems to me there’s no end to award givings in many spheres such as the sciences, the arts, literature, music and medicine.

Then there’s the Queen! During her long reign she has conferred honours to hundreds, if not thousands, for their services to the country and to the world. At the beginning of each year, and on her ‘official’ birthday in June, the names of those to be honoured are made public. They may be in line for MBEs, CBEs, OBEs, Knighthoods and Damehoods. The general public may perceive these honours as well-deserved, meritorious awards.

At the bottom of the echelon there’s the MBE [Member of the British Empire], which is given to someone who has done outstanding service in a local community. Then comes the CBE [Commander of the British Empire], which is awarded to a leader who has played a substantial role at a regional level, or who has contributed significantly at a national level. Next there’s the OBE [Order of the British Empire] for people who have involved themselves in major projects, perhaps in business, or with charities or in the public sector. But the ‘jackpot’, the top prize is being given Knighthoods and Damehoods. They are given to people who have made major long-term contributions to society at a national or international level.

These special awards are highly treasured by the recipients, while a few do not accept them for their own reasons.

Honour and Esteem in God’s Kingdom

There are two realms of God’s united kingdom; they are His spiritual kingdom here on earth, and His spiritual kingdom in heaven, where the angels worship and honour Him and His Son (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 7:11). Here on earth those who have been born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8), i.e., children of God (1 John 3:10) whose *souls have been enlivened by the Spirit, worship and honour both the Father and the Son. The Son dwells in them and they in Him (John 17:20-23).

As members of His kingdom on earth, they have fellowship with the Son and with His Father (1 John 1:3). They laud, honour and esteem Jesus; for He has redeemed them (Galatians 1:4) from their sin and from the penalty of sin. He is the Son of God, whose name is above all names (Ephesians 1:21).

As Christians they endeavour to: ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10).  They also try to: ’Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3),’ and their desire is to: ‘Honour all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king (1 Peter 2:17).’

What say you? Are these your desires and ambitions? Do you always honour God’s name (Exodus 20:7)? Do you know the difference between true gold and false gold?

*Mind, Soul and Body


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Church Foundations

When I was on holiday in Cyprus some years ago, nearby to the hotel where I was staying, workmen were in the process of making foundations for what I guessed would be a house. I was amazed how deep they had to dig to reach solid rock upon which it would be built. The soil was a rusty red colour, and it looked soft and unstable.

This scene brought to mind a passage in Luke’s gospel: ‘He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock (Luke 6:48).’  Here Jesus describes a wise man who does what He, the Lord says (v. 47). Such a man is truly kept by Him.

The Greek word used here for ‘foundation’’ means: “something that has been laid down and consolidated.” That’s an appropriate description – for a building must have a strong foundation if it is to ‘stand’ the test of time.

The house in which I live was built in 1964, and it was sited on clay. As you probably know, insurance companies bump up premiums on such properties. That’s because they are prone to subsidence caused by the expansion and contraction of the clay according to the amount of moisture in it. When there is heavy rain the clay expands, and when there is a drought it contracts.

Fortunately my house was built on a very substantial foundation in the form of a concrete platform; therefore it remains intact to this day.

Half a century has passed since it was built, and during that time architects and engineers have devised new and better systems for overcoming the problem of subsidence.

Here’s an example:

Nearby to my place there’s a new block of flats, and during its construction I took an interest in how it was built. I followed every move. Firstly they drilled vertical shafts into the clay, and within them they set up lattice steel frames. These were linked together with similar horizontal frames that were suspended in boxed trenches. Into them they pumped concrete, which when set formed a very strong structure. Above, and firmly attached to it they erected a steel framework for supporting the rest of the building.

This building has no actual, single foundation, but by its very nature it should remain intact, irrespective of the movement of the clay on which it was built.

So much for physical foundations!

How about spiritual ones?

Spiritual Foundations

Paul the Apostle described himself as a ‘wise master builder’ who was equipped by the grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) of God for the task of laying a ‘foundation’ upon which others may build. [He employs metaphors to illustrate the building process of the early *church.]

Here’s what he wrote to the Corinthians, ‘According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11).’

The foundation he laid was ‘Jesus Christ.’ He preached Jesus Christ, and Him only (1 Corinthians 1:23; Colossians 3:11). He is the solid, immovable foundation who supports the house of God, i.e., His church. He is the foundation on which His church is built and He also holds it together (Ephesians 1:10; 2:5).

In addition to being the ‘foundation’ He is also the ‘chief cornerstone’: ‘Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18-22).’

‘having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (v. 20) does not contradict: ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11); for as Paul preached Christ, so also did the other apostles and prophets. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) they proclaimed and preached the word of God and established churches wherever they went (cf. Titus 1:5).

Paul writing to the Romans explained, ‘And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20).’

When he and others planted churches they appointed leaders and teachers who were imitators of themselves, and most importantly they were imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1)! But at all times Jesus was their foundation and cornerstone. The same can be said of the true church today.


Do not be confused by the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18: ‘“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”’

Peter was not the ‘foundation’ of the church. He was a founding member (cf. Ephesians 2:20) who had a ‘rock’ solid faith  After his denial of the Lord (John 18:15-27) Jesus reinstated him and commissioned him with the task of tending and feeding HIs lambs and sheep (John 21:15-17).

*Who are the Church?


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Stumbling Blocks / Stones

‘For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, also able to bridle the whole body (James 3:2).’

As the above text affirms, we ALL stumble. The Greek verb here for stumble is offend [ptah’yo], and it is used figuratively to mean trip up. We know full well there are times when we can be careless and unthinking and we say things that may offend others, even causing them to stumble.

To state the obvious, this is not good, and Paul warns us: ‘So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block [pros’-kom-mah] or a cause to fall in our brother’s way (Romans 14:12, 13).’

He follows this with an example of how we might avoid causing our brother to stumble: ‘It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak (v.21).’

Addressing the Corinthian Christians (1 Corinthians 8:9) he warned them: ‘But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.’  He went on to say: ‘Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (v. 13).’

The liberty he referred to was freedom from the Levitical laws (Leviticus 3:17; 7:26 ;17:10-14; 19:26) of the Old Covenant; for they were freed (Romans 8:2) from them in Christ under His New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).

Jesus, the Stumbling Stone

The only Person who never said unthoughtful words was Jesus (cf. Hebrews 4:15), and yet a good many hearing His words were offended by them (Matthew 13:57: Mark 6:3). Even now when people read His words in the Bible they are offended by them (Matthew 15:10-12).

Romans 9:32, 33 declare that Jesus is a ‘stumbling stone’ to those who do not believe in Him: Why? Because they do not come to Him in faith (v. 32). They prefer doing their own thing – even relying upon their own works (Ephesians 3:8, 9), which of course is futile and leads to destruction (Philippians 3:18, 19).

Paul adopts and modifies Isaiah 8:14 to make his point that Jesus is a refuge to those who believe in Him, but at the same time He is a stumbling stone to those who don’t believe in Him: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame (Romans 9:33).”’

In 1 Corinthians he says, ‘For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1:22, 23).’

Peter likewise, but quoting from the Old Testament (Isaiah 8:14: 28:16), explains that Jesus is ‘a stone of stumbling’ to the ‘disobedient’, and at the same time He is ‘precious’ to believers: ‘Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” They stumble being disobedient to the word, to which they were appointed (1 Peter 2:6-8).’

Take note that Peter doesn’t mince his words; he didn’t acquiesce into being *politically correct. He boldly stated the truth – the ‘disobedient’ [unbelievers] are ‘appointed’ to stumble!

However, we should bear in mind that Jesus keeps His faithful ones from stumbling, as Jude’s prayer affirms: ‘Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24).’

Stumbling is Serious

We shouldn’t take stumbling lightheartedly; for the LORD destroys stumbling blocks: ‘I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the LORD (Zephaniah 1:3).’

Speaking to Ezekiel the LORD said, “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul (Ezekiel 3:20, 21).”’

This message was specifically for the prophet Ezekiel, but if we apply it to ourselves we would do well to make every effort not to become stumbling blocks, and if we see a brother sinning we should warn him (Matthew 18:15-18; Galatians 6:1) and help him get back on track.

‘And one shall say, “Heap it up! Heap it up! Prepare the way, take the stumbling block out of the way of My people (Isaiah 57:14).”

“I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,” says the LORD, “And I will heal him.” But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked (vv. 19-21).”’

“Lord, We are in Your hands. Keep us from stumbling and being stumbling blocks I pray. Amen”

*Political Correctness


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No Excuse for Unbelief

‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).’

False Truth and False Freedom

It’s true to say there has never before been a time in history as the present. We have access to vast stores of knowledge that are instantly available at the click of a computer’s mouse. Almost without exception the information we seek is revealed on a screen before our eyes.

However, we cannot always be sure that what we read is true, but one such click instantly conveyed to me a paper about, ‘The *Age of Enlightenment’ which is also known as ‘The Age of Reason’.

It extended from the 17th to the19th century, and it was a time of so-called freedom, when through the means of intellectual and philosophical arguments those who had been trapped within the provinces of monarchical and church governance broke free and expressed their opinions and beliefs. Philosophers and scientists were free to think outside the box. Although not articulated as such, their new, but dubious creed, could have been encapsulated by the slogan: “Knowledge reveals truth and champions freedom.”

The above is a generalisation on my part; for ‘The Age of Reason’ had different spokespersons with their particular ideologies and beliefs. Initially the movement was based in Europe, but it spread to America with great impact. Science vied with religion in conflictual battles. The intelligentsia searched for experiential truth through experimentation, while leaning heavily upon scientific methodology. You might say the new religion was “Science”. Embedded within it was the pernicious germ of Darwinism which continues to deceive us today, just like the subtle words of the serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:13).

What they failed to discover was the real Truth (John 14:6), Jesus of Nazareth (John 18:5), and the freedom He brings from sin (John 8:36) and of the power of sin; and above all – escape from everlasting torment in hell (Mark 9:43-48)!

Little has Changed

Things haven’t changed greatly; for science is the religion of this present age. The adoration and worship of all things technological is rife. Astronomy and the exploration of space by probes and astronauts are the excitements and passions of our younger generation. Today’s mission is to save and restore the global ecology by reducing man’s adverse influence upon it. Paradoxically and diametrically we explore the possibilities of mining in Antarctica and under the oceans – even the harvesting of minerals from the Moon and Mars. These are the aspirations of entrepreneurs, some of whom do not seek personal gain and fame, but work for the better good of mankind.

Consequently ethical questions require answers and appropriate actions; for example, “Is it right to deploy thousands of satellites into space for the enablement of 5-G networks? Should we spend millions on developing gadgetry for controlling what happens in space? Should we seek military supremacy through the means of superior cyberspace weaponry? Or should we forget such things and recognise our weakness, and endeavour to live harmoniously with one another; thereby setting an example to the world?”

In all of these distractions we forget that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), and we are made to worship Him. We are blinded (Psalm 115:4-8) and ignorant of who we are, i.e., sons of God through Adam (Acts 17:29), and we are sinners in him. Judgment lies waiting at the door (Hebrews 9:27).

Sin, Judgment and Freedom

Sin! What is it you may ask?

Well, **sin is transgression against the law of God who is righteous, holy, pure and just. He is light (John 1:7-10) and there is no darkness in Him. He is Love (1 John 4:7).

When we disobey Him we rebel against Him and we deserve death (Romans 1:32), but if we believe and trust in His Son we are no longer condemned for our transgressions (8:1). This does not give us a licence to sin; on the contrary, we are bound in love and obedience to Him.

Some will ask if it’s ***fair and right that people should be condemned to everlasting hell if they don’t believe and trust in Jesus. I would ask them, “Who are we to question and judge God?” He made us and He has every right to do with us whatever He wants (Romans 9:21). We who sin fall far short of His righteousness (3:23) and are deserving of death (Romans 1:32) and punishment. It is only by His grace (Ephesians 2:8) that He saves ANY who repent and believe. He gives to them eternal life (Matthew 25:46).

Ignorance of His law is no excuse (cf. Romans 7:1). Just as in a civil court, anyone who breaks the law, if caught and found guilty, is served a sentence that must be satisfied.

To be found innocent when judged by the Son of God (John 5:22) at the end of time, a person must have repented of their sins and turned to God in faith (Ephesians 2:8.).


God ****reveals Himself to ALL through the glory of His creation, and by His Word and by His Son. No one can claim they are ignorant of Him and of His sovereign rule over them (Romans 1:18-21).

The good news is: To those who repent and believe (Mark 1:15) in His Son, He gives to them His Holy Spirit for their guidance and comfort (John 14:26). The Spirit rejuvenates their soul (John 3:3-8), and through new birth in Him they have eternal life (v. 16).

‘“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).’”

*The Age of Enlightenment


**Sin and Its Consequences


***Exclusions from the Church


****How does God reveal Himself to His Creatures?


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‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).’

Overindulgent self-esteem and pride are bedfellows – they are one and the same. In this day of the selfie, each person vies with the other: “I’m more beautiful than you. I have a better car. My husband earns more than yours.” By comparison those with low self-esteem are down in the dumps; they feel they are no good; they can’t make it; they are nothing: or so they believe, and some become suicidal.

All of this is of the world which is the devils’ paradise (cf. Matthew 4:8, 9). The devil himself, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), rules the roost at ground level – well, only for a time (Revelation 12:12c); for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Himself will come to judge, and He will judge with righteousness (Psalm 72:2) and with justice. All self-indulgent pride will be done away with (Zephaniah 3:11).

God hates the proud (Proverbs 6:16, 17; Amos 6:8). His Word, the Bible, repeatedly affirms His condemnation of the proud of heart and Psalm 10 describes how He will overthrow the proud and bring justice for those who are oppressed:

‘The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts (2-4).’ And, Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.” But You have seen it, for you observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand (vv. 13, 14a).’

Pride and Self Respect

Self respect and self-esteem are not the same. A self respecting person judges himself by the way in which he lives according to how he performs in upholding his principles, beliefs, morals and ethical values. The person who performs well according to these things can justifiably say he is proud of his achievements. He is not bragging; he is not shouting aloud to the world, “Look! See what I have done! Aren’t I great and wonderful? I’m better than you! I’m superior and of more worth – more powerful than you!”

The person who has genuine self respect is not prideful. He objectively considers truisms of himself; he does not boast; he does not brag about his attributes and accomplishments.

Self-esteem is a subjective analysis of self. It is based on comparisons of self to other people. A person with low self-esteem may see himself as inferior; he may feel he is not as good, not as clever, not as talented, or perhaps not as handsome or beautiful as those he may admire. These are all negative assessments. Such a person is unlikely to be boastfully proud, but that’s not to say he can’t be boastful.

So, pride in the right sense can be positive and good, but it is mostly exercised in a negative sense.

What does God’s Word have to say about it?

Satan’s Pride

Pride was the downfall of satan, or so it can be deduced from the Scriptures. Isaiah in his proclamation against Babylon and His condemnation of the King of Babylon who was a type of satan, tells of his downfall.

‘“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest side of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).’

Another typical representation of satan is mirrored in Ezekiel’s prophesy regarding the fate of the prideful king of Tyre: ‘The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,’ yet you are a man and not a god, though you set your heart as a god (Behold you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! ….. your heart is lifted up because of your riches) (Ezekiel 28:1-5).”’

And, ‘“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.

“By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.

“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they may gaze at you (Ezekiel 28:14-17).”’

The Consequences of Pride

‘These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).’

God will abase and bring down the proud, as the following Scriptures testify:

‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase (Daniel 4:37).’

‘“Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,” says the LORD (Jeremiah 49:16).’

‘The Lord God has sworn by Himself, the Lord God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, and hate his palaces; therefore I will deliver up the city and all that is in it (Amos 6:8).”’

‘“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, “ says the LORD (Obadiah 3, 4).’

A Warning Against Pride

‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).’

Those who desire to serve as bishops: ‘must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour,  hospitable, able to teach; …. not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil (1 Timothy 3:2, 6).’

Note that the devil is condemned (v. 6), and in his pride what power he has over the world will be taken away from him (Revelation 20:10).

The Good News

The good news is: ‘So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word or their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:9-12).’”

Finally, ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).’

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‘“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).”’

We all want to make a success of our lives, and if we are mature enough we have an understanding of what constitutes that success.

I have a grandson whose ambition is to make a lot of money so that he will be secure in his retirement. This is his passion and the course he has chosen. There’s no doubt that many people want to do the same, but little do they realise God may take away their life at any moment (Luke 12:16-20). He will judge them (Hebrews 9:27); and according to how they have lived, they will face eternity: either in heaven or in hell.

It hasn’t been revealed to them (Matthew 13:11-17) that there is only one successful outcome to life, and that is receiving an inheritance in the kingdom of God (John 14:2; cf. Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9). In His wisdom and providence He gives an inheritance to those who believe and trust in His Son (John 3:14-18).

As I’ve said before, all of us are *failures, and therefore only God can make us successful. However, while we are His servants (John 12:26) He gives us certain tasks to fulfil (Matthew 28:19, 20), and if we obediently fulfil them He will give us success.

Biblical Examples of Success

God commanded Joshua to be strong and very courageous and to observe the law (Joshua 1:7). If he obeyed God, in doing it he would be prosperous wherever he went. God commissioned him to lead the Israelites into the land. If they too obeyed Him, they would be successful in overcoming the inhabitants of Canaan and they would possess the land as their inheritance (v.6).

Joseph was chosen of God to fulfil the task of feeding His people (cf. Genesis 50:20) in a time of famine. We read in Genesis 39:2-4 ‘The LORD  was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favour in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand.’

His success was because ‘The LORD  was with’ him (v.2), and ‘the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand (v. 3b).’ It was all of the LORD’s doing. As with Joshua, he obeyed the command of the LORD.

When the Israelites rebelled against Moses who had been commissioned by God to lead them into the promised land, things went terribly wrong for them. Even Miriam and Aaron spoke against him (Numbers 12:1) and challenged his leadership (v. 2), but the LORD reproved them and spoke to them at the door of the tabernacle (vv. 4, 5). Because of their disobedience the LORD was angry with them (v. 9), and ‘Miriam became leprous, as white as snow (v. 10).’

Later, apart from Joshua and Caleb, the whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:2). Because Joshua and Caleb were faithful and obedient (vv. 8, 9), the LORD brought them into the land of promise (vv. 30, 38) and thus they were successful.

We note that Solomon was successful because he also obeyed the command of the LORD (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:6, 10).

‘Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the LORD and in his own house (2 Chronicles 7:11).’

The Key to Success

The key to success is faithful obedience to the LORD. It’s not the amassing of riches here on earth, but seeking, ‘first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).’



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‘Love never fails. But whether there are prophesies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away (1 Corinthians 13:8).’

All of us are born failures because we are the offspring of Adam who failed God big time. God gave him and his wife Eve (cf. Genesis 3:20) a paradise in which to live, with one condition: they were to obey Him (Genesis 2:15-17). Both of them failed (Genesis 3), and Adam was held responsible (3:16), not only for the failure of his wife, but also for his own failure (3:17-19). The outcome for them and their progeny was spiritual and physical death (2:17).

Although they died spiritually and physically, their souls [Heb. nephesh] did not – since a person’s soul lives forever (Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 3:21; Habakkuk 2:4) and it is destined either for heaven or for hell (Psalm 16:10; 86:13). After death the body putrefies and returns to the earth from whence it came (Genesis 3:19). Death is the failure of the spirit [Greek pnyoo’-mah] with a small ’s’, which is the life-force that sustains the body. Jesus, the unique Man, whose physical lineage is traceable to Adam (Luke 3:23-38), voluntarily gave up His spirit (John 19:30). Only God the Son could could have done this; for He is Life (John 14:6), the One who gives life to all (John 5:21; 6:33) and takes it away (Deuteronomy 32:39). His death on the cross was a triumph, not a failure; since His Father raised Him (Acts 5:30) with a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44, 45, 49) to sit at His *right hand.

Notable Failures

Moses failed God at Meribah when he disobeyed Him by speaking to the people before striking the rock for water (Numbers 20:7-12). God told him to speak to the rock – not to the people, and He did not command him to strike the rock with his rod. The price he paid for his failure to ‘hallow’ God (v. 12) was death and exclusion from the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1-6).

King David failed God in his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:4, 5) knowing full well that what he did was against God’s commandment (Exodus 20:14). Furthermore he arranged the death of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11:6-17), so that he would be free to marry her. The upshot was that God caused their illegitimate son to die (12:15-19). David pleaded to God for forgiveness for the evil he had done (Psalm 51).

King Solomon failed God by having for himself seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3), and because of them ‘his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David (v. 4).’

The Bible records a catalogue of failures, not least, the failure of His chosen **people who disobeyed Him (Isaiah 1:2; 65:2-5, 11, 12; Romans 10:21) and lacked faith (Hebrews 4:2) in Him.

Perhaps the most well known failure is the Apostle Peter. After promising Jesus he would lay down his life for Him (John 13:37, 38) he was found wanting when Jesus was brought before the high priest. On that stressful occasion, Peter denied knowing Him three times (18:17, 25-27).

The good news is that God restores and builds up failures who ***repent of their sins. He forgives them, and accounts them righteous (Romans 4:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21) through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son on the cross. God perfects them in Him (John 17:23), and in due time they will dwell with Him in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-7) where there will be no failures.

*At the Right Hand of God


**Biblical Perspective – God’s People




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