The Definition of Success

gods grace through Joseph

Genesis 39:1, 2 – “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from  the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.” verse 2 – The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. In these two verses, the story of Joseph being sold as a slave, takes place. Although he was put on an auction block and inspected like cattle, “the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man.” We would have a very hard time looking at what happened to Joseph and saying that he was successful, but we don’t always sees what God sees. He sees the end-result.

God’s definition of success is contrary to the world’s definition. The world counts success by what you have accumulated. The worlds account of success is only temporal and is shakable, built on a foundation of shifting sand-mostly greed or all about me.

According to Genesis 39:2, it is clear that success is not what you have, but who you have in your life that makes you a success. God sees our relationship with Jesus as the only thing that we need for success in our lives. The Bible says, He gives us all things pertaining to life and everything we need is in the name of Jesus!

The name “Jesus” is Yeshua in Hebrew, which contains an abbreviation for “Yahweh,” the name of God in Hebrew. So the name of Jesus literally means “Yahweh is our Savior” or “The Lord is our Savior”! Whatever our situation is, we can call on the name of Jesus and Almighty God Himself will save us.

We don’t have to know all the names referred to God in the Bible, all we need to have is a full revelation that Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is also known as “Immanuel,” which translates, “God with us.”

The Jewish people understand that when the Lord is with you, you become successful in every endeavor in your life. The Bible records that  whenever the Lord was with them in battle, the children of Israel were never defeated, they had overwhelming success. Even in battles that they were out numbered, they had victory. When the Bible says that Jesus is with you, He is there to help, turn things around for your good. He is not there to condemn, judge, or find fault. Trust in Him today and watch your life change, for the better!

Nehemiah – Chapter 7

Nehemiah chapter 7

Verses 1-3 – The wall was complete. Then Nehemiah assigned each family the task of protecting the section of wall next to their home.

City gates were usually opened at Sunrise, enabling merchants to enter and set up their tent-stores. Nehemiah didn’t want Jerusalem to be caught off guard by an enemy attack, so he ordered the gates to remain closed to well after the sunrise, when the people would be fully alert.

Verses 4, 5 – During the previous 80 years, thousands had returned from Babylon, but the city’s population was still small. The solution of protecting Jerusalem with such a small number of people came to Nehemiah when God placed in his heart the idea of an accurate census. Nehemiah found the genealogical records in the temple. They were identical to what Ezra had written.

Verse 61 – Genealogies were valued because they meant proof that the Jew was a descendant of Abraham. A lost genealogy put one’s status as a Jew at risk.

Nehemiah – Chapter 6

nehemiah chapter 6

Verses 1, 2 – The wall was almost finished and Sanballat and Tobiah were desperate to stop its construction so they made up lies about Nehemiah. They attacked him personally with rumors, deceit, and false reports. Personal attacks hurt, especially when the criticism is unjustified. Sanballat and Tobiah were planning an ambush.

Verses 6, 7 – On the fifth try, they used blackmail to get Nehemiah to stop work. The accused Nehemiah  of treason against the king. It had worked once before in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:7-16)  by sending an open letter. Sanballat wanted to make sure the public would see it. (during these days, prophets such as Malachi proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, Malachi 3:1-3).

Verse 9 – When opposition and tremendous pressure occurs, we are tempted to beg God to get us out of the situation, but that’s not what Nehemiah did. He prayed for God to strengthen his hands. He stayed steadfast in his responsibility. We are to stand on God’s Word and by faith, He is able, to give us victory!

Verse 10 – Shemaiah tried a religious approach to trap Nehemiah, urging him to flee to the temple to save himself from assassination. People will misuse God’s name to say they know God’s will, but have arterial motives. Be careful to test what they say with God’s Word.

Verse 10-13 – When Nehemiah was attacked personally, he refused to give into fear. He wasn’t going into the temple to flee because he wasn’t a priest (Numbers 18:22). We need courage that comes from God in time of these kind of attacks.

Verses 15, 16 – In spite of these attacks, the wall was finished in 52 days. Daniel, who predicted the rebuilding of the city in Daniel 9:25, here the prophecy comes true. We shouldn’t let the size of the task or amount of time to do it stop us from doing God’s work. When we come together with God, it can be done.

Verse 17 – The nobles tried to convince Nehemiah of Tobiah’s good deeds, but the letters that were sent showed otherwise!

Nehemiah – Chapter 4

Nehemiah chapter 4

Verse 1 – Sanballat was governor of Samaria, the region just north of Juda where Jerusalem was located. Sanballat may have hoped to become governor of Judea but Nehemiah showed up and spoiled his plans. Jealousy was the root of this intimidation from him.

Verses 1, 2 – The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other and here’s why: Almost 300 years before Nehemiah’s time, Israel (northern kingdom) was conquered. When most of the people were taken into captivity, there remained a remnant in Israel. Sargon of Assyria repopulated Israel with captivities from other lands. They began to intermarry and became known as Samaritans. The Jews who returned with Ezra and Nehemiah would have nothing to do with them because they considered them racially impure. Even 400 years later they still hated each other (John 4:9).

Verses 1-5 – Ridicule of another can cause discouragement and despair. When we are mocked or ridiculed for doing what is right, refuse to respond. Pray and continue your work.

Verse 6 – The work continued because the workers set their hearts and mind in one accord, they persevered in the work. Working to accomplish what God has assigned us to do will be well worth the reward. We show God that we are serious when we combine prayer with thought, preparation, and effort.

Verses 10-14 – The only way we can accomplish impossible tasks is to focus on the project at hand . Nehemiah reminded the people of their calling and their goal; and God’s promise to protect them.

Verse 16 – The workers were spread out over the walls so that, some worked while others stood guard. If you are a Christian, you need to stay around other Christians because we need one another to get the job done. God didn’t design us to be “lone rangers!”

Nehemiah – Chapter 3

Nehemiah chapter 3

Verse 1 – All the citizens of Jerusalem took part in rebuilding the walls, even the high priest. These walls had doors that were named after their purpose. Sheep gate: the gate used to bring the sheep in for the sacrifices. Jerusalem was a large city, and because many roads converged there, it required many gates. The walls were taller than the gates so the guards could stand above them and watch who came in. In times of peace, people would gather at these gates. City council was held there and shoe keepers set up at the entrances. Building the city walls and gates were not only a military priority, but also a boost for trade and commerce.

Verse 3 – One of the main gates into Jerusalem was the Fish Gate (2 Chronicles 33:14). The fish market was near this gate along with merchants from Tyre, the Sea of Galilee.

Verse 5 – The nobles of Tekoa were lazy and wouldn’t help. These men were the only ones who did not support the building project.

Verse 12 – Shallum’s daughters helped with the difficult work of repairing the city walls, also.

Verse 14 – The Dung Gate was the gate through which the people carried their garbage to be burned in the Valley of Hinnom.

Verse 28 – The Horse Gate was in the far eastern point of the wall, facing the Kidron Valley. Each priest also repaired the wall in front of his own house. Each person helped repair the gates that were closest to their homes, making a family effort of feeling it was their own.

Nehemiah – Chapter 2

Nehemiah chapter 2

Verses 1-3 – It’s not clear why Nehemiah waited four months before he brought his request to the king. It could have been fear or maybe the king wasn’t there. It is also possible that Nehemiah waited for the Persian feast in which the king would often grant requests. When Nehemiah made his request, he was careful not to mention Jerusalem. He said the city where his ancestors tombs are buried, instead. The Persian rulers went to great expense building tombs for their ancestors, so the king might be sympathetic.

Verse 4 – Notice what verse 4 says; Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king. Nehemiah never left the presence of the king. He prayed right in front of him. Eight times we read in this book that he prayed spontaneously. Nehemiah prayed at any time, even while talking to others. He knew that God was in charge; He is always present, and hears and answers every prayer. As we also should have, Nehemiah had an intimate relationship with God during times of extended prayer. We need to cultivate a strong relationship with God, instead of approaching Him on just an emergency bases.

Verse 6 – When the king asked Nehemiah how long he would be gone, the Bible doesn’t record his answer, but he ended up staying in Jerusalem 12 years.

Verses 7, 8 – After Nehemiah’s prayer, he ask permission to go to Judah. As soon as he got this positive answer from the king, he began asking for additional help. God’s answer to our prayers may come through our asking help from others. Nehemiah recognized God’s gracious hand upon him. God is our power source and the giver of our gifts and talents.

Verses 9, 10, 19 – Nehemiah arrived in Judah and was greeted with opposition. This opposition came from those who had settled and lived in Jerusalem when the Jews had been taken in captivity. In every generation there are those who hate God’s people and try to block God’s purpose.

Verse 10 – Sanballat was governor over Samaria and Tobiah, under Persian. When Zerubbabel first returned with his group (Ezra 1;2), his refusal to accept help from the Samaritans had caused bad relations. Nehemiah was no ordinary exile. He was the king’s personal adviser and cup-bearer, arriving in Jerusalem with the kings approval to build and fortify the city. By rebuilding the city and walls, Jerusalem would become a threat to Samaritan officials who had been in charge of the land since Judah’s exile. The increasing number of people returning from captivity made Sanballat and Tobiah angry.

Verses 15, 16 – Nehemiah kept his mission a secret and surveyed the walls by moonlight. Only after planing carefully would he be ready to go public with his mission from God.

Verses 17, 18 – Spiritual renewal often begins with one person’s vision. Nehemiah had that vision, and he shared it with enthusiasm, inspiring Jerusalem’s leaders. Often people underestimate what they are capable of for God’s plans. When God plants ideas in our minds, there’s nothing wrong with sharing it with others. The Holy Spirit just might plant the same thoughts in their minds to help accomplish it. We’re not to think that we’re the only one God puts these ideas in. He has placed dreams and visions in all of us and someone may be waiting for you to encourage them.

Verse 19 – Sanballat and Tobiah labeled the rebuilding of Jerusalem  rebellion against the king . Nehemiah didn’t bother to tell them that he already had the king’s permission, he simply said, “God approved!”

Nehemiah – Chapter 1

Nehemiah chapter 1


Nehemiah’s name means “Yahweh has comforted.” Nehemiah leads the third and last return to Jerusalem after the Babylonians exile. He challenges his countrymen to arise and rebuild the shattered wall of Jerusalem in spite of opposition. The task is completed in 52 days.

As a cup-bearer to Artaxerxes I, Nehemiah holds a position of great responsibility. His role of tasting the king’s wine to prevent the king from being poisoned, places Nehemiah in a position of trust as one of the kings advisers.

As governor, Nehemiah also establishes firm civil authority. Ezra and Nehemiah work together to build the people spiritually and morally so that the restoration will be complete.

Verse 1 – When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he saw a finished temple but the people were disorganized and the city was exposed with no walls around it. What the Jews lacked was leadership. There was no one to show them where to start and what direction to take in order to rebuild the city.

Verses 2-4 – Jerusalem was the Jews holy city. As Judah’s capital city, it represented Jewish national identity and it was blessed with God’s presence in the temple.

Nehemiah wept when he heard that Jerusalem’s walls had not been rebuilt. The walls were essential in his day for protection. These walls around the city offered safety from raids. Nehemiah didn’t just brood about this situation, he took the problem to God. He took specific action to determine what should be done–prayer and faith.

Verse 5, 6 – That specific action that Nehemiah took was: (1) praise to God, (2) thanksgiving, (3) repentance, (4) specific request, and (5) commitment. When Nehemiah finished praying, he knew what to do. Nehemiah also identified with the sin of his people, confessing that both “I and my father’s house have sinned.”

Verse 11 – Nehemiah prayed for success, not just for the strength to cope with his problems. The success he prayed for was not for personal advantage or position. He requested success for God’s work. When God’s purpose is what you are after, don’t hesitate to ask for victory.


Ezra – Chapter 10

Ezra chapter 10

Verses 3, 4, 11 – Following Ezra’s earnest prayer, the people confessed their sin to God. True repentance does not end with just our words-lip services. It must lead to corrected behavior and changed attitudes. Ezra’s strong act, though difficult for some, was necessary to preserve Israel as a nation committed to God.

Verse 8 – Ezra said that those who didn’t put away their pagan wives would lose their legal right to own land. This was to insure that the off springs of pagan wives couldn’t inherit Israel’s land. Furthermore, if anyone chose not to come to Jerusalem, they would be expelled and not allowed to worship in the temple.

Verse 11 – As believers in Christ, all our sins are forgiven. His death cleansed us from all sin. So why do we need to still confess our sin to God? Because we still sin after conversion. We have to admit to ourselves that we have done wrong and stand in agreement with God that our thoughts, words, and our actions, were contrary to His will. Confession is turning away from sin and asking God to help us live for Him.

Verse 44 – The book of Ezra opens with God’s temple in ruins and the people of Judah captive in Babylon. This abrupt closing of the book of Ezra is merely a closing to the section of Ezra’s early ministry. The focus shifted to Nehemiah, who like Ezra, faithfully served God.

God is able to restore and rebuild lives. No one is so far away from God that he or she cannot be restored. Repentance is all that is required. No matter how far one stray’s or how long its been, He is able to restore our relationship to Him and rebuild our lives.

Ezra – Chapter 9

Ezra chapter 9

Verse 1, 2 – Marrying a foreign wife was not always forbidden. Joseph and Moses both had a foreign wife. Bu,t intermarrying local Canaanite groups were forbidden. This was so that they wouldn’t teach detestable things to the Hebrews (Deuteronomy 20:18). Since the time of judges, Israelite men had married pagan women and then adopted their religious practices (Judges 3:5-7). The reasons not to do this were strictly spiritual. A person who married a pagan believer was inclined to adopt that person’s pagan beliefs and practice. Until the Israelites were willing to stop this practice, idolatry remained a constant problem.

The New Testament says that believers should “not be yoked together with” unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Faith always becomes an issue and there is no unity. Those who ignore this principle usually live to regret it.

Verse 3 – Ezra’s response to this was repenting and mourning.

Verses 5-15 – Ezra’s prayer confessed the sins of the people. He recognized: (1) sin is serious, (2) no one sins without affecting another, (3) that he was not sinless, although he didn’t have a pagan wife, (4) that God’s love and mercy spared the nation when they had done nothing to deserve it. It’s easy for us today not to identify sin for what it truly is in a world that considers sin inconsequential. How fortunate we are that God gives us mercy and grace rather than only justice.

Ezra – Chapter 8

Ezra chapter 8

Verse 15 – Ezra halted the journey to Jerusalem for 3 days, when he couldn’t find none of the sons of Levi. He needed servants for the house of God. Evidently there weren’t any that were volunteering.

Verses 17, 18 – So Ezra gave a command for Iddo the chief man, to bring us servants for the house of our God. Then Ezra writes, by God’s good hand, eighteen men were brought forward.

Verses 21-23 – Before making all the physical preparations for the journey, Ezra made spiritual preparations. Their prayer and fasting prepared them spiritually by showing their dependence on God for protection. Ezra felt the king had already given so much that he couldn’t ask for soldiers too, for protection. Ezra knew God’s promises to protect His people, but he didn’t take that promise for granted. So they humbled themselves and prayed. God answered their prayer!

Verse 26 – Six hundred fifty talents of silver would be about 25 tons. That was a large amount of treasure to transport, with or without a detachment of soldiers.

Verses 28, 29 – Every object used in the temple service was consecrated to God, set apart for His special use.

Verse 36 – Satraps were the equivalent of provincial governors.