Constant prayer was offered to God for [Peter] by the church. Acts 12:5
Many of us make daily decisions based on the odds. If there’s a 20 percent chance of rain, we may ignore it. If there’s a 90 percent chance, we’ll take an umbrella. The greater the odds, the more our behaviour is affected because we want to choose wisely and be successful.
Acts 12:1-6 describes a situation in which Peter’s odds of survival were very low. He was in prison, “bound with two chains between two soldiers” while others guarded the door (v.6). Herod had already executed James, one of Jesus’ closest followers, and he had the same fate in mind for Peter (vv.1-3). A gambler would not have put any money on Peter getting out of this alive.
Yet God’s plan for Peter included a miraculous deliverance that even those who were interceding for him found hard to believe (vv.13-16). They were astonished when he showed up at their prayer meeting.
God can operate outside the odds because He is all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for Him. The One who loves us and gave Himself for us is in charge of our lives. In ordinary circumstances and impossible situations, God can reveal His power. Whether we are showered with success or sustained in sorrow, He is with us.
God is always in control behind the scenes.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. —Colossians 3:2
The Masters Tournament is one of the most prestigious in professional golf. In 2009, Kenny Perry placed second after leading during the final round. Writing inThe New York Times, Bill Pennington described Perry as “disappointed but not despondent” after the loss. “I’ll look back on it occasionally and wonder what I might have done differently, but I won’t dwell on it,” Perry said. “If this is the worst thing that happens in my life, I’ve got it pretty good. I won’t let it dog me. There are so many other things in life that matter more . . . . I’ll go home tonight with my family and we’ll have fun.”
The ability to look beyond our disappointments is essential for followers of Christ. Our focus determines how we face the victories and defeats in life. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). This way of thinking looks to Christ, rather than our achievements, for significance and validation. We seek Him, not success.
When we strive for excellence and give our best effort, losing hurts, but it doesn’t have to harm us. The key is where we set our minds and hearts.
Lord, thank You that You are the one who measures
how we’ve done in life and determines
whether we’ve been successful. Help us to keep that
focus even in disappointments.
When Christ is the center of your focus, everything else comes into proper perspective.
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. —John 14:3
A couple who brought their elderly aunt to live with them were concerned that she would not feel at home. So they transformed a room in their house into an exact replica of her bedroom at the home she left behind. When their aunt arrived, her furniture, wall hangings, and other favorite things felt like a special “Welcome home!” to her.
In John 13:36–14:4, we read that at the Last Supper Jesus spoke to His disciples and tried to prepare them for His death. When Simon Peter asked, “Where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (13:36). Jesus was still speaking directly to Peter (and also meant it for all of His followers) when He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [rooms]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (14:2-3).
Heaven is a family gathering of believers from every tribe and nation, but it is also our Father’s house—and in that house He is preparing a room just for you.
When you arrive in heaven and Jesus opens the door, you’ll know you’re home.
I have a home in heaven above
From sin and sorrow free--
A mansion which eternal love
Designed and formed for me. —Bennett
No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:62
Many health and fitness centers expect a flood of people to join every January who will come only a few times. They don’t mind if people pay the fee and never return. But fitness trainer Jesse Jones takes the opposite approach. If you sign up and don’t show up, he will terminate your membership. Jones says, “Save your money. Come see me in a few months when you’re serious. My passion is not for another three-month payment . . . we’re making people accountable to reach their goals.”
In Luke 9:57-62, we encounter three people who told Jesus they wanted to follow Him, and all received what seem to be harsh replies from the Lord: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (v.58). “Let the dead bury their own dead” (v.60). “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (v.62). For each person, Jesus stated the sacrifice and commitment required to become His disciple.
A man I admire as a dedicated and sensitive follower of Christ says that Christians need to be “ready for radical commitment and change.” The Lord calls us not only to leave the status quo, but also to take that calling seriously by following Him.
Lord, I want to be sold out for You. I want to love You with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me the power to be who You want me to be, and to walk in Your ways. Following Jesus demands our all.
When you were little in your own eyes, . . . did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? 1 Samuel 15:17
Among the more than 19,000 original epigrams penned by chemist and writer Dr. O. A. Battista is this wise observation: “You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.” Unfortunately, just the opposite often happens when something we have done is praised and rewarded. A humble heart can quickly become a swelled head.
Just before Saul was anointed king, he saw himself as a member of an insignificant family in the smallest tribe of Israel (1 Sam. 9:21). Within a few years, however, he had erected a monument in his own honour and had become the supreme authority for his conduct (15:11-12). The prophet Samuel confronted Saul for his disobedience to God by reminding him, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?” (v.17).
Self-importance is the first step down the slippery slope of what we call success. It begins when we claim credit for God-given victories and modify His commands to suit our desires.
True success is staying on God’s path by following His Word and giving Him praise instead of craving it for ourselves.