Summary: We are in for an amazing journey to find the keys to mastering success for our lives! This sermon will also challenge churches on the importance to being successful!

Mastering Success For Life!

Jeremiah 29:11

We are in for an amazing journey to find the keys to mastering success for our lives!

Joshua 1:8 “Study this Book…continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.” NLT

Rarely does anyone stumble into success! Success comes when one plans, prepares and is persistent about it!

The million-dollar question: What is success? If we were to stand out in front of Wal-Mart and ask that question, how many different answers do you think we’d get?

In order to answer that question we must first determine what success is not!

Success Is Not Found In…

a. Attaining Riches.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 “Whoever loves money never has enough money; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” NIV

Ben Franklin said “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. This is a true proverb of the wise; “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasures and trouble therewith.”

In 1923, a group of the wealthiest men gathered in Chicago. At the time these men controlled more money together than did the treasury of the Unite States.

27 years later listen to what the results just 7 with the most money.

· Jesse Livermore, Wall Street baron, committed Suicide.

· Leon Frazer, the president of a huge banking company, committed suicide.

· Ivar Kruegar, Businessman, committed suicide.

· Charles Schwab, president of the largest steel company, the last 10 years of life he lived broke and bankrupt.

· Arthur Cutten, a great Wheat speculator, died penniless.

· Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange, convicted of a crime and went to Sing Sing prison.

· Albert Fall, a member of a president’s cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home broke!

All these men knew how to make the money but it could not buy them success! Not could it teach them how to enjoy a successful life!

Many wealthy people live and die in a lonely world of their own making!

LifePoint: Money can bring you tons of people to your life, but money cannot buy the treasure of one true friend!

b. Success Is Not found In Attaining Goals.

People say that retirement is when they will just sit on the porch and kick back! I have met many retired men that thought retiring was the pinnacle of success only to find that reaching that goal was not so! Boredom and aches and pains set in and it was down hill from there!

If that’s your goal be very careful that you have hobbies, friends and new goals to challenge yourself with!

Reaching a goal can destroy a person by way of stagnation deception!

Motivated people are successful in challenging themselves to new and higher personal goal.

Charles Hughes wisely said, “One of the most important lessons in life is that success must continually be won and is never finally achieved.”

Churches can learn from this truth! Many times they set goals in membership and then say to themselves, “we’ve arrived! That’s dangerous for any church! Stagnation sets in and before long the church starts to decline and that’s the story with most churches in America today!

According to the North American Mission Board of the SBC…

· Only 11% of their churches are experiencing healthy growth. That means 89% are stagnating as we speak!

· 7 out of 10 people in North America do not know Christ.

If we don’t begin to get God’s vision I assure you that this church will stagnate! Obviously we have no more room on this property so do we settle for this? Or do be begin to believe that we can reach our community with a wider vision?

Do you get the picture; a church is not healthy unless it is successful in overcoming complacency!

c. Success Is Not In Attaining Power.

Adolf Hitler had complete power over his people. His demonic dream of slaughtering 6 million Jews dragged the world into a bloodbath.

On April 30, 1945 he blew his brains out and ordered his body to be burned so no one get hold of his body.

Saddam Hussein had complete power over his people by way of terror and torture. Palaces of marble and gold were his to revel in. Billions of dollars in his many bank accounts lined with dirty and swindled money through the United Nations.

Until finally through the leadership of our President and the heroics of our brilliant military we brought Saddam from a palace in the desert to a pit in the sand!

Hitler and Hussein both had absolute power but were not in any way are they models of success!

d. Success Is Not In Attaining Calm Seas.

The world is filled with men and women who have been successful even though life is full of rough waters!

Cripple a man and you have Sir Walter Scott. Lock a man in a cell and you have John Bunyan. Bury a man in snow and you have George Washington. Raise a man above his poverty and you have Abraham Lincoln. Deafen a genius composer and you have Beethoven.

This is worth coming to church for…the world is not interested in the storm in your life; but did you bring your life through the storm.

e. Success Is Not In Attaining Everything In Life.

Anyone who says that they have it all is lying! And contrary to popular thinking…the man who has all the toys doesn’t win!

A great story is told by Leo Tolstoy. He tells of a rich man who was never satisfied with the land and possession he had. So on day he heard about a chance to get huge amounts of land.

So for a 1000 rubles he get all the land he wanted by walking as many acres as he could in one day and make it back to the finish line by sun down. He gets going early in the morning and travels acre after acre and as the sun began to set, he started to pace himself even quicker until finally the sun was about to set and after running for the last several acres he collapsed and died at the finish line with blood pouring out of his mouth and he died straddled over the finish line.

His servant took a shovel and dug the rich man a grave just long enough and wide enough for his body to fit into.

Leo Tolstoy titled this book “How Much Land Does a Man Need”? He ends his book with this line, “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

Success is not having it all!

Last time I checked, I’ve never seen a Hurst pulling a U-Haul!

f. Success Is Not In Attaining The Status Quo.

Status Quo is a sure sign of stagnation! If personal change is not taking place in our lives then were on dangerous ground.

Someone has said that only fools and dead men don’t experience change in their lives –fools won’t and dead men can’t!

If your life is not constantly improving in some area, then I guarantee that you will become bitter and sour in life!

Are you stagnant in your spiritual life? Are you stagnant in you marriage? Stagnation is a cancer, a disease that makes us sick of life!

Far too many Christians have settled for the average when it comes to their spiritual walk.

Do you want to know the sure sign that a church is in stagnation and accepted the status quo philosophy? Those 6 words are cancer to the spiritual body… “We’ve never done it that way!”

Evidence shows that most churches in America have flat lined in 3 areas. In their:

· Approach to worship.

· Attention to witnessing.

· Application of the Word.

Fact: The church that ministers yesterday’s methods in today’s world won’t be in ministry tomorrow!

g. Success Is Not In Attaining A Life Free of Criticism.

I ask you, “How do you respond when you receive criticism from you spouse, friends or employer?

Let me give 3 ways you can live without ever receiving criticism:

· Do nothing

· Be nothing

· Say nothing

One form of Success is learning how to receive criticism without putting up your defenses and receive it with honesty and evaluation!

Most of us struggle with criticism! It’s possible that our lives can be ruined by too much praise and not enough criticism!

Criticism is a great tool that God uses to help shape our lives and helps mold us into the person He wants us to be!

It’s hard to understand sometimes that that Pharisee might be sent into your life to polish God’s grace more in your life. That intimidator might be sent into your life to brighten God’s leadership more in your life. That opinionated person might be sent into your life to sweeten God’s words for your mouth.

The way I see it in my life – there are 2 kinds of criticism:

· Justified

· Unjustified

Key: The way we tell the difference is: justified criticism has a measure of truth in it.

In Mark 3:22 a Pharisee said that Jesus was possessed by Satan. Jesus recognized that a statement like that was unjustified criticism.

There’s an old saying that says, “If one person calls you a donkey, just forget about it. If five people call you a donkey, buy a saddle!”

If you’re in ministry, you will experience criticism! If you’re doing something for God, you will experience criticism!

We can use criticism to:

· Open the door to self-discovery.

· Close the door on certain people.

To try to life a life without criticism is like trying to get all the fleas off your dog!

In closing one word gives us a great insight to what it means to be a success in life…“Servant”.

Romans 1:1 “Paul a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.”

James 1:1 “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Matthew 23:11 “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

LifePoint: Servanthood is a position where a Child of God finds power and a place where a Child of God finds purpose! And that’s success!

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests.

The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn’t come over here." But sure enough, the man did." Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice. They answered "Oklahoma."

"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?" "I teach at a Seminary," he replied. "Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a great story for you." And with that, the man pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great... Just what I need...another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there?

(Pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, ’Hey boy, Who’s your daddy?’ Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question! ’Who’s your daddy?’ He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

Just about the time he got to the Back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, Son, who’s your daddy? The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, ’Who’s your daddy.’

This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment said..." Wait a minute!’ he said. ’I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’

With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.

With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ’Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ’I’m a Child of God.’"

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn’t that a great story?" With tears in his eyes, the professor responded, “That was great.”

As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was a child of God, I probably never would have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, "Do you know who that man was who was sitting at our table?"

The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper and he comes down here every morning to serve awhile, and he just happens to be the governor of Tennessee!" Maybe you need to be reminded today that as a Christian you’re a child of God!

Think about it, if we adopt this thinking - that means that no matter your background, no matter your education, no matter your up bringing, no matter who you know - we all qualify to be successful in life!

(Some of the information in this sermon came from John Hagee’s Book, "The Seven Secrets")