For years Thomas Edison tried to perfect a long lasting storage battery. During this time he conducted thousands of experiments that were unsuccessful. One day one of his employees came to him and said, “Isn’t it a shame that you have wasted all of this time? All of the tremendous labor and time that you have spent on this project has not achieved any results that will work.”
“I’ve got plenty of results,” said Edison. “You see, I’ve discovered several thousand that won’t work!”
To his credit, Edison was able to look at what he was doing as a way of learning and solving problems. When he failed he did not look at it as final. He looked at it as a stepping stone to something else. How fortunate is that person who can see beyond the moment of defeat to the joy of victory!
Often we fail to see God at work in what we are doing. We look for the approval of others believing that our rewards come from them. Scripture reminds us, however, to define success in terms of being faithful to God and what He has called us to do. God rewards us for being faithful to Him, for doing what He calls us to do even when we fail in the eyes of the world.
Struggling through difficult days and trying times proves that our trust is in God and that we look to Him for our rewards. “Fear not, I will strengthen and help you.”
Prayer: It’s natural, Lord, to want the approval of those around us. Often we think that they are the final authority. Remind us, however, that we labor for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Two men were well known in their area of Oregon for their wood-chopping skills. The local residents always wondered which one of them was stronger and more capable of chopping through the most amount of wood in a given day. Finally, George went to Alan and challenged him to a contest.
The crowds gathered from far and wide and preparations were made for the contest. During the contest George, the challenger, worked hard, stopping only to eat lunch or occasionally drink water. Alan, however, not only stopped for lunch but took regular breaks. At the end of the day, Alan won the contest.
“I don’t get it, Alan,” said George. “You took more breaks and stopped more frequently than I did, and yet you chopped more wood.”
“Each time I stopped,” said Alan, “I was sharpening my axe.”
No matter what we do in life we need a good, workable strategy. Too often people work hard but not smart. Smart people plan what they are going to do and then work their plan.
Solomon wisely advised, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” This simple bit of advice will take us a long way if we want to become successful.
Success begins with a deep desire to do whatever God wants us to do. But desire is not enough. More than simply desiring success, we must work with all of our strength, our heart and our soul. We must first discover what God wants us to do, then, empower ourselves with preparation, look to God for His plan and guidance and commit ourselves to His leadership.
Prayer: Father, we know that You have a perfect plan for our lives. May we discover it with Your guidance, do it in Your strength and bring honor to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Early in life Michael Johnson was taught how to plan for success. Each time he would share his dreams with his father, he was asked, "How do you plan to do that?" He was then expected to list each step involved in reaching his goals, research everything that was involved to accomplish his goals, and list every step involved in attaining his goals.
When he became a sprinter, he applied the same rules to running. As a result of his planning and training, he won four gold medals as a sprinter in the Olympics. He was crowned the world champion sprinter eight times and still holds two world records. In the world of running, everyone acknowledges his success.
For the Christian, success is pleasing God. We must take our goals to God and ask His blessings on them. We must make certain that they are deeply rooted in integrity and honesty and consistent with God's will for His world. There is a vast difference in worldly success and Godly success. Godly success comes to the Christian when we honor Him in everything we do, even if we do not win medals or set records.
Prayer: Lord, may we always aim to please You in all that we do and make every plan a Godly one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
Harlan Sanders had just turned forty. No matter what he tried, he failed. Nothing he did succeeded. He was discouraged and disheartened.
Then, one day someone said to him, “Life begins at forty!”
He decided to open a gas station. Shortly afterward, he added a luncheonette. People said that his chicken was tasteless. Rather than giving up on his tasteless chicken, he worked on new and different seasonings. One day he finally combined the right seasonings in the right amounts for his now famous recipe and called it Harlan Sanders’ Fried Chicken. It soon brought him fame and fortune and the governor of Kentucky made him a “Kentucky Colonel.” It was the beginning of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Through his faith in God he turned failure into fortune and tragedy into triumph and gave God the credit for his success. Life began at forty for the Colonel because he worked hard and trusted God. Hard work, trusting God and being faithful to the Lord is a winning combination. Follow the formula daily. It works.
Prayer: Father, help us to realize that failing does not make us a failure, but our lack of faith will.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
James had unwrapped all of his birthday presents except one. It was a small truck that had a bubble of plastic over it that was sealed to a piece of cardboard. He tried desperately to separate the plastic from the cardboard but had no success. Initially he thought he could separate the two by trying to slip his small finger nail between them. But his nail was too short. Then he tried to carefully squeeze the plastic to see if it would “open up” enough space for him to get his hand on the truck. That plan failed, too. Then he put the plastic bubble on the table and pushed on the cardboard thinking that was the solution. Frustrated, he looked at the little truck with longing eyes. It was a prize that became more valuable each time he tried to unwrap it.

Then he looked up at his Dad and asked, “What can I do to get my truck out of the box?”

“Well,” said his Dad, “you could ask for help.”

Every plan that James tried failed. They all seemed sensible to him, but when he tried to make them work nothing happened. Then he lifted his eyes and found someone who would help him successfully achieve his goal.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” is worth accepting and applying. We may design detailed, thorough plans to reach our goals, but when we attempt to make them work in our own strength, we become frustrated and discouraged when they fail. It’s better to include the Lord in the planning stage and then work with Him until they are fulfilled.

Prayer:  Lord, we all want to succeed in everything we do. May we always include You from the beginning to the end. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

“Before you make a decision, make a plan or set a goal, ask these questions,” said T.B. Matson, our ethics professor.

“Can I ask God to bless what I am about to do?”

“Is what I am planning to do going to honor God?”

“Would I feel comfortable to ask others to join me in prayer for what I am asking God to do?”

“Would others agree with me that what I am about to do will be God-honoring?”

We often act and react without pausing to pray about or even consider the consequences of our behavior. Sometimes when things seem to be getting out of control, we run to God and plead for Him to “correct this terrible mess I’ve created for Your sake.” Others may say, “Well, it looked good when I started but where is God now?”

Because of our sinful nature, we often act without seeking God’s approval before setting out on a project. We think, plan, work and then wonder “what happened to my ideas?” when things go wrong. We forget the need to go to God first because of our desire to act independent and self-sufficient. If we look to and depend on God, we automatically admit we are insufficient on our own and need His help. And who wants to think they need help?

Wisely Solomon wrote, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” The word used for “commit” literally means “roll over.” So, if in prayer we “roll over” our plans to God for His blessing, protection and guidance, we can expect them to succeed.

Prayer:  Father, we pray that You will remove all pride from our lives and help us realize our need for Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Somewhere on a shelf in my library is a small book with a big lesson. When I take its message to heart, I am more apt to succeed in whatever I have in mind. When I rush ahead and neglect its counsel, I am more apt to fail and have to deal with problems that could have been avoided.

It Takes Two to See One is the name of the book that “can make a distinct difference” in how we make our decisions, solve our problems or set our goals. The simple secret is that if we isolate ourselves from the wisdom and knowledge of others, and insulate ourselves from the insight and experiences of others, we are likely to end up with a picture that is out of focus or lacks detail and will lead to disaster!  

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Getting input and ideas, advice or information from others can lead to success. Although not clearly expressed in the way this verse in translated, the advice we are to seek is to come from those who we can trust and will keep our discussions confidential. As we talk and look for clarification “from many” a pattern will develop and what might have been overlooked will become visible.

There is also the important fact of humility in this verse. “Pride” does come before “destruction” and God does hate a person who is “arrogant.” Those two words, pride and arrogance, have brought the downfall of many. Being inclusive of others in our lives shows great wisdom. No one knows everything but others do know something.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to realize the need we have for counsel - especially from You. May we recognize our limits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “But I don’t want to be a role model.” But that’s not the way it is. All of us are, at one time or another, a model who someone will try to imitate for one reason or another. David made this observation a long time ago.

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,” he said. When David looked for a role model he did not look for one who was famous or powerful, one who had wealth or riches, he looked for one who was “faithful to the Lord.” He was committed to build his life on God’s principles – principles that were eternal and everlasting. So, he searched for those who had God’s purposes and plans in their minds and hearts, those were obedient to God. And when he found them he surrounded himself with them and even invited them to “dwell” with him.

Someone once asked John Rockefeller, “How did you become so successful?” He looked at him sternly and said, “Because I surround myself with successful people!”

Here we find a great lesson for life: If we want to achieve great things for God, we must surround ourselves with people who have done or are doing great things for God. We cannot become more than we are for God if we associate with and follow the examples of those who do not care much for God or do not have loving and serving God at the very center of their lives.

David expressed his need for being surrounded by the “faithful.” He knew that “He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” 

Prayer: Lord, may we be careful to choose friends who will encourage us to be faithful to You in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 101:6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
Ade Mae and Harry Day were cattle ranchers in Arizona. When it was time for their first child to be born, they had to travel over 200 miles to locate a doctor to assure a safe delivery for their child.

Immediately after her birth they brought Sandra to their humble home: an adobe house on the ranch. There was no electricity and no running water and there was no school within a reasonable driving distance. So, when Sandra turned four years old her mother began teaching her the “basics” at home.

Eventually it was necessary for Sandra to move to El Paso, Texas to begin her formal education in a public school. She lived with her grandmother during these critical, formative years and when she was old enough, attended a boarding school for girls.

After graduating from high school she went to Stanford University in California where she excelled as a student. After she completed her college education, she attended the law school at Stanford and served on the editorial staff of the school’s Law Review.

She was the first woman to serve as the majority leader in the Arizona Senate and was the first woman Supreme Court Justice of the United States. Her husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for over twenty years and she now works to end that disease.

Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.” Faith can turn our trials into triumphs if we follow Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be willing to look beyond what is to what can be. Let us not be discouraged by the hardships in life knowing that You are there to lead and guide us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
There once was a jockey who lost his first race and felt humiliated. But he did not give up. In fact, he lost his next 250 races before he enjoyed victory. His name? Eddie Arcaro and he became one of the most famous jockeys of his day.

There once was a baseball player who struck out 1,330 times. But he is not remembered for striking out. He is remembered for being one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. His name? Babe Ruth, a true legend in the history of “the game.”

There once was a man who once failed 99 times while doing the same experiment before it turned out right. But he is not remembered for his failures. Thomas Edison is remembered for being one of the world’s greatest inventors and is credited with 1,093 patents and his famous “trial and error” or Edisonian Approach to research: work until “you get the results you are seeking.”

Failure need not be fatal. It can be an important part of our learning process and lead us to ultimately discover the plan that God has in store for each of us.

There once was a man who denied his Lord. He often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive, turned his back on Jesus at His trial and even denied Him three times. Yet, he became the recognized leader among the disciples, was one of the “inner three” and became one of the greatest voices of the Gospel Message.

Prayer: We are grateful, Lord, that You will not give up on us as long as we stay close to You and seek Your will for our lives. May we never do less than our best for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
1 2