Garry spoke from Psalm 127 this morning on the subject of success. He warned us that he would ask more questions than he would give answers, but as Michael Card says, ‘Could it be that questions tell us more than answers ever do?’ Jesus used questions and parables as a teaching aid to stimulate His disciples to serious thought. You have been warned!

Some of the questions we had to think about were:
* How do we define success?
* What are our expectations?
* Why are we interested in success?
* Can we trust the world’s definition of success?
* How do we measure what we do?
* Do we try to justify what we do by the results we can see?
* Do we stop doing what we are doing if we can’t see visible results?
* Does blessing define success?
* If we fail, does that mean we have no guarantee of success?
* Is there such a thing as a guarantee of success?

Certainly the world has fixed ideas about success and applauds successful people (at least initially!) The world dismisses failure and views success in measurable terms such as getting results. In management, we are encouraged to set SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timed. The problem in working with God is that He inhabits eternity, and not all these things are measured by Him in the way that we measure them! Garry’s Vernier caliper is useful for measuring length, but useless at measuring weights or as a timepiece. We have to be careful to use the right tools for measuring.

In the church, results are often like icebergs – four-fiths of them are not visible! God sees the whole picture: we don’t. So often, what we see seems murky or foggy. We have to learn to evaluate situations as God does: the man mentioned in Luke 12:16-21 would be deemed ‘successful’ by the world’s criteria but was termed a fool by God becasue he had placed his hope in earthly material wealth.

Ps 127 reminds us that God has to be involved in our work for it to succeed and reminds us that His presence with us makes all the difference. Jesus reminds us that even He did nothing without seeing His Father doing those things. As Jack Hyles said, “If I labour for God, I fail. If I labour with God, I succeed.”

Luke 9 reminds us that the successful Christian life involves self-denial, counting the cost and obedience. We have to judge our success not by what we can see, but by how well we are seeking to obey God and do His will. As Jesus reminded us in John 4:37-38, some have the job of sowing and some of reaping. Reaping is definitely the more glamorous job, but each job is important and crucial. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that if we meditate on God’s law and obey it, we will be prosperous and successful. To achieve success, we have to be aware of what God wants and then do it. As Mark said at the end, success can be defined in two words: ‘trust’ and ‘obey’.