Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygiae and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Acts 2:8-11
This is a list of some the nations represented in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost who heard the disciples praising God and testifying in their own language.
In Genesis 11 we learn that the whole earth originally began using the same language and the same words. This enabled them to begin work on a great tower of self-pride. So God confused their language and scattered them across the whole face of the earth. The seeking of their own glory and success caused confusion and dispersion.
Success defined by the world will always be in direct opposition to God’s definition and just causes more confusion and separation amongst us. The world defines success by becoming bigger, better, busier, and more beautiful. It is based on building a tower of great achievements and the focus is on results. However, God’s definition of success is completely different.
We really need God to constantly redefine success for us because we are constantly distracted by the world’s patterns. This is a matter of continued prayer. When God redefines success in our lives, it also changes what we pray for. It redirects us from a focus of self-will and frees us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
For example, as we read these incredible events in Acts it might be easy to believe that the work of the Spirit is always big, dramatic, and loud. But this is where we need to also be careful and not overlay the world’s definition of success on our own “success” in the Spirit. God revealed to Elijah that He isn’t always in the wind, earthquake and fire. He very much also comes as a “gentle whisper” or “a still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). How big or small, loud or quiet that the Spirit wants to demonstrate His work through us is completely up to God. How God is to show up cannot be our focus. Just like the wind we cannot control the movement of God’s Spirit. In fact, it is His Spirit that needs to control us. Thus, we focus on surrendering our own will, seeking only His, and taking the steps He asks us to take.
“[God’s] definition of success is: finding out what is on Jesus’ heart and then doing it, when and how He says to.” — Steve Smith
This is exactly what the disciples did and doing so brought about a day that powerfully revealed God’s glory, not their own. People that were caused to scatter due to sinful pride are now being brought together from every nation, united by the Spirit of God and in the name of Jesus.
Church, this is the success we seek. Let’s eagerly pray and wait upon the Lord to accomplish this through us.
Is there an area of your life where you’ve been distracted by the world’s definition of success? Ask God to redefine this for you and teach you to pray accordingly.
Please also seek God in prayer for any steps we as a church need to take in trusting obedience to Him. Please pray that we are not distracted by the world’s definition of success and to reveal any area in the church that this may exists to give to Him.
Please also join us tomorrow at GSIS (3rd FL) from 7PM to 9PM as we conclude our week of prayer and fasting in worship and prayer together.
For those who have been fasting, remember to not go out for a huge celebration meal on the last night of the fast to mark the end of your fast. You might suffer! Gradually reintroduce the meals you have been fasting to give your body time to adjust back.