Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seven Awesome Achievers of the Bible... and what you can learn from them!

God doesn't leave unnecessary details strewn through out the Scriptures. They are there for a reason, to instruct and teach us. I've selected what I think are seven of the Bible's greatest achievers... and God has a lesson for all of us through them. Ready to find out what they are?

Courtesy of Flickr-Carlos Err (text by DR)
But before I continue, let me say I have left out a lot of people that may traditionally come to mind. For example, I pointedly do not mention Solomon - who although expanded the kingdom of Israel to it's greatest size and amassed unprecedented levels of wealth - actually made life very difficult and harsh for his citizens, didn't die with a deep connection to his Lord and had a harem of hundreds of concubines and many, many wives. Needless to say, prosperity starts from within, in the heart and at home... family! Of course, there are many other men and women, who did great things and had a very strong trust and dependence on the Lord that I have not mentioned too. As you read on, you might want to check out the links that talk more about these men.

1) Enoch - he who walked with God

We know so little about this man, nor about what he achieved. But I believe Enoch was a mighty man of faith, who may have been around during some very perilous times. He lived a full life of 365 years - the number of days in a year - and then was simply "taken up", i.e. he didn't taste death! His son, Methusaleh, lived 969 years, the longest living man on earth. I say that Enoch was a great achiever, because he was a guiding prophet for many people. (All of what I write here, has been derived from inferences in the Scriptures). So what was his secret? He walked with God, that is he had a continual discourse with Him, was always aware of God's presence, always listening, always talking to Him.

2) Isaac - the meditating man

Isaac was an heir of Biblical proportions. Unlike his father, or even his sons, Isaac lived a very quiet and peaceful life. He never once left the promised land that God had given him. In all his life, he had a single wife whom he loved dearly, Rebecca, and two sons. He truly is a rarity in the Old Testament. Isaac of course had a powerful experience early in his life when God told his father to sacrifice him on the mountains of Moriah. Undoubtedly, he had received from that incident a great revelation of the sacrifice that God would provide 2000 years later, Jesus, the Son of God, crucified on the same mountains! One of the amazing things about Isaac, is that he basically jumped to biblical proportions of greatness because of a single act of faith - which you can read about here. But the secret to this man's success in his life, his quiet, peaceful nature was that he was a man who very often meditated... not just on anything, but on the cross of Jesus Christ!

3) Joseph - the dreamer who saw himself in the right light

You've probably heard of how he was sold into slavery by his ten, jealous step-brothers, was then falsely accused by master's wife of trying to rape her and as a result thrown into prison. And then one day, he went from those dark dungeons to becoming the prime minister of all the land. Joseph always had kept in mind that God was with him. In other words, like Enoch he walked with God. But I believe if you look closer you'll see something else. As a slave, he didn't moan and groan at his fate - he did the best he could in the place he was and because of God's favor became the head of all servants in the house. When he was thrown into prison - wow, he was now not just a slave, but a slave-prisoner - he also didn't depress himself into the depths of self-victimization like many would easily have done. Instead, he worked and showed his integrity to such great lengths that he became the chief of all the prisoners. You see, Joseph never saw himself as a slave or a prisoner during those dark years of his life. Joseph remembered the dreams God had given him, he knew he was called to greater things and that's precisely how he saw himself.

4) Joshua - the one who chose to see good

Joshua was a mighty man, in word, in deed, and in action . He led the ancient Israelites from their desert dwellings of 40 years, to the promised land flowing with milk and honey. He was very intelligent, close to God, powerful and kind. He certainly received awesome promises which he was sure to keep in mind (see Josh 1). But I believe his secret is found much earlier in his life. Many years before the ancient Israelites would enter their promised portion, Joshua was selected - along with 11 other men - to go on a covert, reconnaissance mission to scout the land. It was a 40 day mission and when the 12 returned, the majority gave in to fear mongering as they reported the presence of mighty giants who made them feel like grasshoppers. Those who did so numbered 10 (the number of the Law by the way) and they chose to scout the land with the attitude of "lets see what Yahowa has planned for us here, cuz out here in the deserts, Egypt is starting to look really good". They entered with a cynical spirit, unsure of God's promises and blind to the amazing grace and goodness shown them by Yahowa. Joshua and Caleb on the other hand saw a land, fruitful, truly flowing with milk and honey. They chose to see the promises of God. They chose to see the positive. And when it came to the challenges - i.e. the giants - they didn't ignore them, but confidently trusted that with God anything was possible, even defeating these mighty races. That was Joshua's secret, he chose to the see good in every situation and knew that his God was the God of the impossible!

5) Daniel - the man of the world who changed the world

If you had the pleasure of meeting a modern day Daniel, you would have remarked how wise, intelligent and current he was. He would have been a deeply pensive, humble and honest man who would have had an enormous amount of insight and awareness about the world and all it's problems. Daniel was a man of great wisdom and integrity. He was also a refugee, but like Joseph, only defined himself in the right light and knew that God was with Him. Daniel and his friends became very close to the king of the land because of this and were promoted to some of the most powerful positions of governance in the land. Now Daniel was a man of prayer. Every day he would pray three times. Yet his secret is a little deeper than that. If you look at the 9th chapter of the Bible book by his name, you'll see that Daniel took it upon himself to intercede for his nation, when he was neither it's king nor it's priest. I believe this prayer changed the course of history for his people and paved the way for two great men, Nehemiah and Ezra to rise and bring back many who were willing to go back to their land... a whopping 70 years after they had been forcefully removed from their homes!

6) John the Baptist - the man who couldn't care less what the world thought

John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. He was declared by Jesus to be the greatest prophet (Luke 7:28) and essentially the last prophet of the law (Mat 11:12). I think John was one of the greatest ministers that ever lived. So effective was his ministry that every man and woman who had been baptized by John, easily received Jesus as well (see Luke 7:30). He truly paved the way for Christ though he never did a miracle of any kind. Now John was very bold in the things he said but even more daring was his lifestyle. He lived in the desert, wore camel's hair as clothing and ate locusts and wild honey. Understand that the Middle East is a place where conformity rules society like a dictator. Those who don't fit in are very often trampled and thrown out. John was a man who stood in the face of the giant ghost of conformity and just walked on. Those who choose to conform, do the same and think the same, never achieve great things. If you want to be a great man or woman, stop listening to what others say cynically to discourage or pressure you to conform... and just keep walking.

7) Paul - the apostle of power and grace who bought the gospel to the world

There isn't a man in history like this man, and few have a past as dark and malicious as his... yet his darkness was no match for the Light of Christ! A champion persecutor of the church, Paul (or Saul as he was called) was stopped in his tracks one day when Jesus met him on his way. That was the day Paul met Christ. It's amazing to see that Paul never knew Jesus before His death on the cross, nor did he even hang out with the apostles much... instead he went to Arabia for at least three years. But he returned a man, full of power - both in the preaching of the Gospel and performing of miracles. He never saw Jesus heal a man or set one free from demons... yet he did the same to many a precious soul in his life time. He took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world - beyond Judah and Samaria - and wrote a major part of the New Testament scripture. Paul was so powerful in the Spirit, that he talked as if life and death were truly in his hands. What was his secret? Paul understood the Grace of Christ like no body else I know! To understood how he preached Grace, take a look at what they accused him of in Romans: he preached that one should sin as much he likes since it will increase grace! I love it when people hear me preaching the gospel and say that too! (We are fully forgiven, but if you read Paul's writing you'll see that the fully forgiven fight sin the hardest.) And you should as well... it's the mark of Paul, the one who knew the Grace of God!

Learn from Enoch who, though his race was fallen, did not hide from Him, like Adam. Instead he always walked with God in His mercy, love and joy and lived a full life without tasting death.

Learn from Isaac who meditated on the cross and on the wondrous love of God and prospered greatly, never even leaving his promised inheritance.

Learn from Joseph the one who refused to let his outside circumstances define himself. He always chose to embrace the truth that God loved him and was with him, no matter what.

Learn from Joshua, who upon seeing the promised land - though it was riddled with mountainous giants - chose to ponder and praise the abundant goodness of the Lord rather giving into cynicism and fear.

Learn from Daniel, who prayed with authority (authority he didn't have according to the Old Covenant)... we who are under the New Covenant have a far grater authority, that of the Royal Priesthood where Christ is our High Priest.

Learn from John, the one who chose to see Jesus as the Lamb and disregard the world, throwing it's conformity to the ground.

Learn from Paul, who embraced God's grace every day and dared not contaminate it with a shred of Law.

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