Universal statement: When the last chapter of your life has been written — what is the closing paragraph going to say?
What thoughts and images come to mind when you thing of being "successful"? What does success look like for you?
I think that the word “success” means different things to each of us. Success could equal having a happy and fulling marriage… success could means feeling financially secure.. home ownership… success could mean attaining a position or winning some achievement… Success may simply finishing a task.. for example some higher educational goal…
Think most of us are driven by the need to succeed or at least to be perceived by others as succeeding. Here is the problem is what happens when we use the the wrong measurement of success? There will be feelings of failure and never measuring up..
What are some of the measurements of success?
some measure success by ACHIEVEMENT - Set a goal and then you achieve the desired goal.
Michael Phelps has dominated the pool over the course of the last four Olympic games and has won a total of 28 medals. To get a perspective on what 28 Olympic medals looks like:
Together, the medals weigh "more than 18 pounds," and "if he had been his own nation at the last four Olympic Games, Phelps would rank 13th in gold medals...
How many gold medals does it take to feel successful… it has to be more than the goal of Medals for Phelps…
John Maxwell calls the goal of ACHIEVEMENT the “Destination disease.” It’s the belief that if one can arrive somewhere -attain a position, accomplish a goal, have a relationship with the right person - they will be considered a success.. Michael Jordan quit basket ball and played pro baseball and then returned to basket ball because he realized that he loved the process… rather than the destination.
For some maybe the measurement is WEALTH.
If only we can accumulate enough wealth then we will be successful. The problem is that wealth doesn bring contentment. John D Rockefeller gave away more than 35 Million in his life time and was once asked how much it would take to satisfy him. His reply was, “just a little bit more”
Another measurement might be POWER (position)
Charles McElroy once joked, “Power is recognized as an excellent short-term antidepressant” There is some truth here in that power gives the impression of success, but it is often short lived… Every leader “position” is going to at some point come to an end… the corner office is not always going to be yours..
What is success? I love this Definition by John Maxwell.
Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others
then he adds…
In other words success is a process not a destination…
When you see success as a journey you will never have the problem of trying to arrive at a specific destination.. Our human approach to success tends to be - Here is my goal..
God’s approach is all about the journey- here is the person I want you to be, here what I want you to do… and here is how to be that type of person and how to do the task.
The last several weeks we have been learning from the Kings of Judah… some of them were successes and others compete failures.
What I love about this part of the Bible is that we have these records where we can glean and learn from History... where we can see the unfolding of good and bad leadership and the consequences of good and bad decisions. We have a record comparisons and contrasts in our text… What does a good leaders do? What should we avoid? What does success look like?
The kings of Judah… basically the kings can be divided into two camps those who sought after God and those who didn’t… the successful Kings tore down false idols, prioritized worship and established themselves in the scripture.
One of the most successful leaders was Jehosphat!
Jehosphat was the teaching King in Israel… He was a revivalist… restored worship and order placing godly judges around the nation of Judah… and under his leadership the nation prospered… and when he was threatened by a coalition of foreign evaders (moabites, Amonites, ubasites) who … threatened to destroy them… Jehosphat called the nation of Judah together and together they sort the face of God… they fasted and the Lord answered their prayers — through His Word… The prophet declares,
“the battle is not yours the battle is the Lords stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”.... God caused confusion and the enemy destroyed itself… It was an amazing victory for Judah that day…
And you can imagine that just like the stories of Israels crossing the Jordan and destroying the Egyptians.. that this story was told over and over…
When Jehosphat was old and ready to pass on the baton of leadership to his son Jehoram…The nation was secure, worship and the word was still a priority, people were treated with Justice and as a nation they were prospering…
As you read through the book of 2 Chronicles you get this perspective from the Chronicler.. (who is possibly Erza). That this is much more than a History lesson, but rather this record of history is instructive… In other words we are not peering into the distant past through a periscope.. but rather we are given practical wisdom and application for today..
For the Chronicler it was a lesson from history that needed to be heard in his own day, for it remained the pathway to success and blessing.
Jehosaphat had seven sons and he blesses them and gives them an equal inheritance…
Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place. He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. Their father gave them great gifts of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn.
The proverbs says a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. Jehosphat was a good man a good father who dispersed his wealth and influence equally among his children. He gave his sons great gifts…gold, silver… valuables .... set them up in fortified cities...
Part of his was a strategy in dispersing his sons throughout Judah was to strengthen the dynasty and the nation as a whole. Now.. I want us to notice something here… How does the last paragraph of Jehosphat's life read… How is he going to be remembered..
At the end of Jehosophats life…we can conclude...
1. Jehosphat lived out his purpose…
2. Jehosphat maximized his potential...
3. Jehosaphat sowed seeds to benefit others..
His impact on others transcended his leadership… Jehosphat is known for those lives who were enriched because he was around..
We’ve all heard that experience is the best teacher.
Although we all should learn from our experiences, both good and bad, there’s no good reason to keep reinventing the wheel. Rather than learning from your own experiences, it is far more efficient to learn from someone else’s…experience....
The map of God's activity, then, is not a blank ocean between the apostolic shores and our modern day. So we need to remember--and search for our roots in--the luminaries, risk takers, and movements of the church through the centuries. To neglect them is not only to risk repeating past errors, it is to fall victim to a narrowing amnesia that leaves us floundering.
Timothy K. Jones, Christian History, no. 25.
I have been reading one of the history books of the Free Church… We have an amazing legacy of men and women who made sacrifices in the begining of our church… It is entitled — “Stumbling into Maturity.” The title is
Spiritual legacy we have in the DNA of our movement.
People of the word--- one of the phrases that comes from our “What says the scripture?” In the early days when revival were spreading across this nation… God raised up men like D.L. Moody who stirred revival in the nation… Some came with some strange doctrines… people would always go back to the Bible… built on the foundation principles of the reformation - Solos — only grace.. only christ — only Scriptura - only grace — only faith. Pastors and congregations knew both theology and the scriptures...
Church planting - small groups were formed --- many churches were formed.
Missions minded Church - Free Churches have been huge proponent of supporting oversees missions. Still leads in the area
Over came the Need to change.… They had come out of State run churches and therefore were nervous of forming formal organized church… with membership… and pastors.. authorities.. But they realized in order to keep the fruits of revival they had to be in congregations…Services held in Swedish and there were big changes in the New World… Especially when many of the Children were learning English… As the younger generation grew up they wanted services in English and the older generation longed for sermons in their own swedish tongue… They started adding English Service… church began to grow… here is the thing those churches that didn’t change eventually died out...
T/S not only do we learn from the successes of others but we also learn from failures..
The other day Pam was driving along park street in Chico and she stoped for a red light and the car next her flew through the light… Now, you might have compassion on the guy… how many of us have gone through a red light or miss timed a light… but then at the next intersection he did it again… went through a red light… then he did it again…and
sure enough at the third light - Pam caught up to him and he was in the middle of the intersection and a car had broad sided him… Now, not sure what his thinking process was here… Maybe he in a rush to get somewhere… or was he distracted and not paying attention… But, one thing was certain - failure was almost guaranteed.... As you read through Jehoram’s life this guys life is an accident about to happen… As you read the story you know that it is not going to end well…
When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and also some of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
The first things that Jehoram does when he ascends to the throne is that he kills all his brothers and some of the princes of Israel… He basically makes a power move and took out anyone who he perceived to be a threat… Ironically, this one move nearly wipe out his family line.. as you read on in the story…
Success is nothing to do with what you gain in this life for yourself… rather success is what you do for others. Jehoram made success about himself and he ended up a failure.
And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
It is amazing what happened to Jehoram.
Jehoram instead of following the godly role model of his father… Jehosphat. He chose to follow the King Ahab as an example and role model… He wanted to be just like him and it was reflected in his behavior… or his conduct… Ahab was the anthesis of who Jehosphat was.... exact opposite.
Ahab was known as the wickedest King in Israel. we are told in the book of 1 Kings that King Ahab “did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.” He married Jezebel who had a hatred for God’s people and he devoted himself to the worship of false gods. Jehoram follows in the example by Ahab’s daughter and we told that he does evil in the Lord.
The Chronicler presents the reign of Jehoram as the undoing of the accomplishments of Asa and Jehoshaphat…
We live in an age of relativism which basically says, there is no absolute truth.. Each of us has to decide what truth is..
You have to decide what is right or wrong for you, and we are more and more wanting to live lives that are guilt-free… free from condemnation.. Here is the thing it is easy for me to justify my actions… in the OT you had immediate retribution… in the New Testament — You have grace and mercy… Divine retribution.. happens at the end of the age...
We have to ask ourselves… what are the things that are undoing God’s movements in our heats and lives… what are the things that are hindering our progress in the faith.
Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
One of the major themes in 2 Chronicles is that God is a covenant Keeper… An God made a promise to David… that there would always be a king on the throne of David....The promise was that the Davidic line would not be extinguished until the time of the Messiah, who would occupy the throne forever.
Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
Here is the thing when a leader fails or falls.. is he looses trust… with trust.
In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own. Then Jehoram passed over with his commanders and all his chariots, and he rose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and his chariot commanders. So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. At that time Libnah also revolted from his rule, because he had forsaken the Lord, the God of his fathers.
Jehoram responded by invading Edom with his officers and chariots but was not able to bring the Edomites under his control. On the contrary, Edomite forces surrounded Jehoram’s forces, although he broke out of the trap and escaped, a sign of God’s graceAs a result of Jehoram’s disobedience, Judah lost some of its political influence. Edom who was under the rule of Judah rebelled and set up their own king…
Moreover, he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray. And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah,
We learn from Jehoram that good leadership doesn’t come from the place of position but rather from the place of character…… what I have learned is that people don’t care about my position too much… they do care about my character and my heart… Christian leadership is all about influencing people --- Godwards… Johoram was leading but unfortunately in the in the wrong direction
build up hight places of worship and promoted idolatry in Judah…
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter.
Jehoram was a son-in-law of Ahab, and it is Ahab’s nemesis Elijah who announces judgment on Jehoram in Judah for his following the ways of the Omrides and for the fratricide that began his reign.He brought God’s Judgement
behold, the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’ ”
In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
Ahaziah walked in the ways of Ahab.... (mentor) remember his mother was the daughter of King Ahab… “his mother was his counselor in doing wicked--- gave him poor advice…
He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing.
when he was buried they remembered Jehosophat...
They buried him, for they said, “He is the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.
Athaliah… followed in the foot steps of his fathers — walked in the ways of Ahab… The chronicler says nothing about him except mentions his name… The silence is defining in this verse....
When you compare Jehosophat and Jehoram side by side the contrast is so stark… On one hand you have a King that is remembered by the third Generation… and beyond…
And all that is said about Jehoram is this sad commentary.
He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
What will the last paragraph say about your life?
Picture with me for a moment....Two maps side beside… One map looks simple and easy to read.... It is clearly marked … You have point A as the starting point and then point B is your destination… If you simply follow the path… you should just get to where you need to be…
Then you have another map — and there is only Point A…and the first thing you notice is that the destination is a little vague… and to add to the confusion.. the terrain looks rough and the roads are windy.... Life often presents us with the second map… How many people get out of High School knowing exactly what they want to do with their life?
We don’t always have control of the Map… but we do have control of the choices we make...
The metaphor of “the two ways” is common in Jewish and early Christian writings.
Jesus in the sermon of the Mount … talked about two gates.. Two choices.. there is the broad way… seems to be the path of least resistance. There are no significant demands to be met, no discipline to acquire, in order to go through this gate and down this path… it seems like the best route..
Ancient wisdom pushes back on this philosophy… …sages understood the perils of self- deception… that in our natural wisdom… we can make haste decisions… In fact what we consider “reasonable:” can end up being folly.
The Narrow Gate… is less travelled, it will have more challenges. Jesus taught that his disciples were going to be on a path that was going to be demanding… and I know that it is sometimes difficult to remember these words… he majority is not always right.
In his best-selling book, Into Thin Air, John Krakauer tells the story of the ill-fated expedition to the summit of Mount Everest in 1996. In the book he mentions a member of the expedition named Yasuko Namba. Ms. Namba was a 46-year-old Japanese FedEx employee with a passion for climbing. She was an accomplished climber, having reached the summits of seven of the largest mountains on the planet. The only one left for her to conquer was Everest, the tallest in the world. She desperately wanted to get to the top of Everest as well.
This was her goal. So much so that Krakauer, who was also a member of the expedition, tells how "Yasuko was totally focused on the top. It was almost as if she was in a trance. She pushed extremely hard, jostling her way past everyone to the front of the line. She wanted to get to the top of Everest." Later that day, she made it. She accomplished her goal. She was the oldest person ever to make it to the highest point in the world.
Later that afternoon, however, Yasuko and a number of other climbers were caught in a terrible blizzard. And as the icy winds blew, Yasuko succumbed to the exhaustion of her climb and froze to death. Yasuko Namba died agonizingly close in time and location to where she had gained her greatest prize. This helps explain her tragic mistake. According to Krakauer, Yasuko's fatal flaw was that she adopted the wrong goal. Yasuko's goal had been to get to the top of the mountain. What she wanted the most was to stand at the top of the world, and all of Japan cheered her when she did. But this was the wrong goal, and a frequent and sometimes fatal mistake that climbers make. The goal of climbing should never be to get to the top of a summit. Successful climbers know that the goal is not to get to the top—it is to get back down to the bottom. The tragedy is that Yasuko accomplished her goal. Against incredible odds she made it to the top of the mountain. But as she poured out her energy to get to the top, she did not save enough strength to make it back down. Yasuko failed because she adopted the wrong goal.