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Summary: How do you know if you or your church is successful?

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THEME: How do you know if you or your church is successful? When what you have done reflects: Godly vision, Faith, Hardwork and determination, and when it points beyond your needs to the needs of others.

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"A preacher and soap maker went for a walk together. The soap maker while he enjoyed the company of the preacher did not think to highly of religion: "Jesus was a failure. Just look around you, what do you see? Trouble, misery, wars - even after all these years and years of preaching and teaching about Jesus, goodness, truth, and peace. What good is religion with all its prayers and sermons if all this evil still exists?

The preacher didn’t respond but reflected quietly as they continued their walk. Then he noticed a child playing in the gutter. The child was just filthy with dirt and mud all over. The preacher stopped and said to the soap maker: "Look at this child! Soap has been around for over 3000 years. You say that soap makes people clean, but what good is it? With all the soap in the world this child is still dirty. Soap is a failure."

The soap maker laughed and replied: "The success of soap isn’t dependent upon whether everybody is clean or not. I’m a rich man because of soap; but, soap can’t do its job if it isn’t used!" "That’s exactly right,’’ said the preacher. And so it is with religion. It will not accomplish anything unless people use it!" (Contributed by: Tim Zingale)

People want to be successful, whether it is in wining friends, making money, getting a promotion, playing a game or losing weight. We measure our worth on the basis of how successful we are perceived to be. By the world’s standard it means luxury, wealth, possessions, notoriety, fame, beauty, and achievements. Yet if we measure our lives by the world’s standards we have an inaccurate and incomplete view of whether or not we are truly a success.

God’s standard of measurement is nothing like the world’s. Look at Abraham he left wealth and comfort of Ur behind to become a nomad in the desert. Moses gives up Pharoah’s palace to become a shepherd and suffer with God’s people for 40 years in the wilderness. Nehemiah gave up a well paying job as a highly respected government official to build a wall around a ruin; Jeremiah was imprisoned at the bottom of a stinking mud hole. John the Baptist wore wiry camel hair, ate locust and looked like a mad man. The apostles were mere fishermen who gave up their day jobs to travel around the countryside on foot. And there is Jesus an out of work carpenter who died a shameful death on a cursed cross.

Success, what is it; and how do we know if we have achieved it as a church or even as an individual? In today’s text Gamaliel (guh may le al), a Pharisees, tells the Sandhedrin not to worry about the apostles. He reminds them to two others previous revolutionaries, Theudas and Judas the Galilean who had a following but upon their death their followers scattered to be heard of no more. He implies that this too will be what will happen to the apostles unless by some slim chance they happens to be from God and then of course you couldn’t stop it even if you tried. Even the Pharisees and Sadducess believed You can’t Stop God.


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