Bible Study Guides – Lessons from the Life of David – Secrets of Success

March 3, 2019 – March 9, 2019

Key Text

“Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him; that glory may dwell in our land” (Psalm 85:9).

Study Help: My Life Today, 53; Patriarchs and Prophets, 713–716.


“It was regard for the law of God that gave Israel strength during the reign of David.” Prophets and Kings, 466.



  • Give an example which reveals the fidelity and justice of David. 2 Samuel 8:15; 9:1–6.

Note: “David, in his covenant with Jonathan, had promised that when he should have rest from his enemies he would show kindness to the house of Saul. In his prosperity, mindful of this covenant, the king made inquiry, ‘Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake’ (2 Samuel 9:1)? He was told of a son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, who had been lame from childhood. At the time of Saul’s defeat by the Philistines at Jezreel, the nurse of this child, attempting to flee with him, had let him fall, thus making him a lifelong cripple. David now summoned the young man to court and received him with great kindness.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 713.

  • What missionary lesson can we learn from the way David succeeded in touching the heart of this skeptical grandson of Saul? 2 Samuel 9:7–13.

Note: “The private possessions of Saul were restored to him [Mephibosheth] for the support of his household; but the son of Jonathan was himself to be the constant guest of the king, sitting daily at the royal table. Through reports from the enemies of David, Mephibosheth had been led to cherish a strong prejudice against him as a usurper; but the monarch’s generous and courteous reception of him and his continued kindness won the heart of the young man; he became strongly attached to David, and, like his father Jonathan, he felt that his interest was one with that of the king whom God had chosen.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 713.

“In tender, pitying love, lay hold of the discouraged and helpless ones. Give them your courage, your hope, your strength. By kindness compel them to come. …

“If the servants of God will walk with Him in faith, He will give power to their message. They will be enabled so to present His love and the danger of rejecting the grace of God that men will be constrained to accept the gospel.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 235, 236.



  • How did Hanun, king of the Ammonites, totally misinterpret David’s gesture of genuine kindness? 2 Samuel 10:1–4.

Note: “They [the Ammonites] could have no conception of the generous spirit that had inspired David’s message. When Satan controls the minds of men he will excite envy and suspicion which will misconstrue the very best intentions. Listening to his counselors, Hanun regarded David’s messengers as spies, and loaded them with scorn and insult.

“The Ammonites had been permitted to carry out the evil purposes of their hearts without restraint, that their real character might be revealed to David. It was not God’s will that Israel should enter into a league with this treacherous heathen people.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 714.

  • What was Hanun’s immediate action when he considered the potential consequences of the insult he had rendered to Israel? 1 Chronicles 19:6–8.

Note: “The Ammonites, knowing that the insult offered to Israel would surely be avenged, made preparation for war. [1 Chronicles 19:6, 7 quoted.]

“It was indeed a formidable alliance. The inhabitants of the region lying between the river Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea had leagued with the Ammonites. The north and east of Canaan was encircled with armed foes, banded together to crush the kingdom of Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 715.



  • What did Joab declare to encourage his people? 1 Chronicles 19:13. How did David inspire them also?

Note: “David, realizing how much dependent upon the result of this contest, took the field in person, and by the blessing of God inflicted upon the allies a defeat so disastrous that the Syrians, from Lebanon to the Euphrates, not only gave up the war, but became tributary to Israel. Against the Ammonites David pushed the war with vigor, until their strongholds fell and the whole region came under the dominion of Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 715.

  • Although today the weapons of our warfare are not to be carnal, how can we gain strength by considering the outcome of this particular battle in David’s reign? 2 Corinthians 10:3–6; 1 John 5:4, 5.

Note: “The dangers which had threatened the nation with utter destruction proved, through the providence of God, to be the very means by which it rose to unprecedented greatness.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 715.

“The kingdom of Israel had now reached in extent the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham, and afterward repeated to Moses: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates’ (Genesis 15:18). Israel had become a mighty nation, respected and feared by surrounding peoples. In his own realm David’s power had become very great. He commanded, as few sovereigns in any age have been able to command, the affections and allegiance of his people. He had honored God, and God was now honoring him.” Ibid., 716.



  • What did David realize in considering his remarkable deliverances? Psalms 18:20–22, 35, 46–50; 33:16, 17; 44:4–7.
  • What opportunities were afforded Israel during this period, and why? Psalm 85:9–13; Proverbs 14:34.

Note: “In the reign of David and Solomon, Israel became strong among the nations and had many opportunities to wield a mighty influence in behalf of truth and the right. The name of Jehovah was exalted and held in honor, and the purpose for which the Israelites had been established in the Land of Promise bade fair of meeting with fulfillment. Barriers were broken down, and seekers after truth from the lands of the heathen were not turned away unsatisfied. Conversions took place, and the church of God on earth was enlarged and prospered.” Prophets and Kings, 25.



  • How had a seemingly small sin crept into David’s experience, thus paving the way for worse temptations? Song of Solomon 2:15.

Note: “He [David] often conquered, and triumphed. He increased in wealth and greatness. But his prosperity had an influence to lead him from God. His temptations were many and strong. He finally fell into the common practice of other kings around him, of having a plurality of wives, and his life was imbittered by the evil results of polygamy. His first wrong was in taking more than one wife, thus departing from God’s wise arrangement. This departure from right, prepared the way for greater errors. The kingly idolatrous nations considered it an addition to their honor and dignity to have many wives, and David regarded it an honor to his throne to possess several wives. But he was made to see the wretched evil of such a course by the unhappy discord, rivalry and jealousy among his numerous wives and children.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 86.

  • What unseen foe was stalking David, just as with each one of us? Ephesians 6:12. What is our only defense? Ephesians 6:13; James 4:7, 8; 1 Peter 5:8, 9; 4:7.

Note: “In the midst of prosperity lurked danger. In the time of his greatest outward triumph David was in the greatest peril.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 716.

“In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release. … We are urged to prepare for this conflict.’’ Sons and Daughters of God, 328.

“The work of every soul is to resist the enemy in the power and might of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the promise is that the devil shall flee from us. But let all realize that they are in peril, and there is no assurance of safety except as they comply with the conditions of the text. The Lord says, ‘Draw nigh to God’ (James 4:8). How?—By secret, earnest examination of your own heart; by childlike, heart-felt, humble dependence upon God, making known your weakness to Jesus; and by confessing your sins. Thus you may draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” Ibid., 346.



1     What can we learn from David’s kindness toward Mephibosheth?

2    Why do the heathen often misinterpret a kind act?

3    Explain the reason for Israel’s victory over the formidable alliance which rose up against them.

4    What should we learn from the prosperity of Israel under David?

5    Explain how to have consistent victory in the great controversy.

What Brings Success

Everyone desires to be successful, whether it is in marriage, in business, or in family relationships, i.e., between parents and their children, siblings, or other relatives. We want successful relationships with our friends and success to come our way when we face trials, disasters or crises. No one enjoys being down-and-out for long. For some, above all is to be financially successful.

The reality is that God created every human being to be happy and successful in all the pursuits of life.

Jesus, our example, was successful in everything He did. We may not measure some of the things He did in the context of what we understand success to be, but everything He pursued was perfect. We understand from the word of God that it is also possible for us today to be as He was in all things.

The question rings out, “What brings success?” The key and basis to success is to please God. This can be proven through the Scriptures as in the case of Naaman, who wanted to be healed of leprosy. He was told what to do in order to be healed. Because of his high position, he was offended at the simplicity of the requirement and refused to believe (II Kings 5:1–12). I hope you are not as Naaman but that your heart and mind are open to recognize that God works with simplicity, and even though it may sound too simple, it works.

Another example is found in the story of Esther. The incident involved Esther, Mordecai and a very cruel man, Haman, who hated the Jews with a passion. There is a phrase repeated in the book of Esther, which explains how Esther was enabled to be successful in all of her dealings with the king.

“Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king, And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces.” Esther 8:4, 5.

You will see the word please in these verses, and a careful study of the book of Esther reveals how many times she keeps repeating the need to please the king or to do that which was pleasing in his eyes. Every time she did so, she received what she wanted. This lesson, I believe, is in the Bible to teach us a particular science, a science that works with God as much as it works with man.

Regarding ancient Israel, the Bible states, “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” I Corinthians 10:5, 6. Verse 5 tells us the reason why the children of Israel, over a 40-year period in the wilderness, were destroyed. Over and over again you will see in the Scriptures that whenever Israel pleased God, they obtained whatever they wanted. Whenever they displeased God, they did not get what they wanted; actually they received what they deserved in the form of punishment. Pleasing men is one thing, but pleasing God is a whole different story. When Balaam sought to curse Israel, he knew that in order to bring Israel’s downfall he would need to cause the people to displease God by falling into sin. As long as they pleased God they had a shield, and the continued blessings of God were upon them (Numbers 22–24, 31:8, 16).

The way in which God dealt with Israel in times past is the same way He will deal with His people today. We have to learn what it is to please God in the same way we please people. Often we go out of our way to please men, but there is much more value in pleasing God above all else. The Bible says that God has created us for His pleasure. Not until He can get a people who will seek to please Him will God in turn bestow upon them every blessing that He has available.

It is not too difficult to be successful in this life, but we often lose faith in God’s way and try to pursue success on our own and in the way of the world. Too often we try to please our friends, even to the extent of disregarding God and His ways, yielding to peer pressure, just to please people versus pleasing God. Consequently, the success is limited.

Concerning the pleasing of Christ, the Bible says, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:6–9.

We can say, “I am a son of God” or “I am a daughter of God” as much as we like, but if we are not seeking to please Him, the Spirit of God is not going to stay with us. He cannot dwell in those of the flesh, because those who are in the flesh do not make it their earnest effort to please Him. Relationships ought to be carefully chosen. To hang out constantly with the worldly-minded that tend to pull us down to the level of the carnal mind is very dangerous.

All good things come from God, whether it is in the context of material, physical, or spiritual blessings, and all of these gifts bring success. Even the wicked man depends upon the mercy of God to gain a blessing. Everything he has is only by God’s grace. Look at Nebuchadnezzar, the world ruler—king of Babylon; he lost everything because he did not recognize the source of his power. Because he took it upon himself to exalt himself as being the god and lord of the whole world instead of giving glory to the true God, he became like an animal. The Bible says he was out in the pasture for seven years eating grass, and his nails and hair grew long (Daniel 4:30–33). He failed to please God and did not acknowledge the true source of all his blessings.

What would we be and what could we attain if we decided to do only that which we know would be pleasing in God’s sight? A parent, especially a Christian parent, will usually do almost anything for a child who lives to please him. This same thing applies in the context of God’s people, not just in the context of our relation with family or friend. Until we are doing our best to please God instead of ourselves or other individuals, we will lose out on the blessings that God wants to bestow upon us.

The apostle declared, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. Is this the attitude we have when we come up against situations that involve pleasing friends or pleasing others? Do we, like the apostle, recognize that if we fail to please God in our efforts to please others, we are not going to be considered His servants?

God is looking for a people on whom He can bestow all of His blessings. This world is lacking a true representation of God on this planet, with so many professed Christians not resembling Christ. Christian means follower of Christ, and we need to understand how Christ conducted himself, how the apostles and the patriarchs and prophets acted. They lived their lives seeking to please God, even if they turned everybody else against themselves. God, in turn, was always ready to give them whatever they needed.

In the context of marriage, Paul says, “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” I Corinthians 7:32, 33. This is the only big challenge that is cited regarding marriage. Marriage involves becoming one. That means forsaking father, mother and all others to become fully aligned with your mate. Even though the Bible says that marriage is highly exalted and honorable, it leaves this warning for us. Whether married or unmarried, be aware of the greatest danger in such an experience; a married person is generally inclined to seek to please the person with whom they are married. Actually, that is a good thing, because love is self-sacrificing. Love is a principle that makes itself manifest in seeking the best interest and happiness of others at the expense of oneself. Nothing is wrong with seeking to please the other. But there is a danger, and that is placing a spouse before God, and by so doing, the need to first consider God’s happiness is forgotten. We are warned, because many times we compromise even in marriage, though we know our spouse to be in the wrong and we know that God is not pleased. Be careful! The most important thing in life is the need to establish ahead of time that your boyfriend/girlfriend knows that God comes first with you. If he/she makes objection, then it does not make sense to pursue the relationship further. God must come first in our pursuit of genuine happiness, and true friendship is based upon whether we will live to please God.

Every so often, if we are not looking to please somebody else, we look to please ourselves instead of God. We think that rubbing shoulders against a person, who is powerful, wealthy and knowledgeable in everything, will ensure getting what is needed to be successful. To that end, some grovel, bend over backwards and become total puppets just to please people and get the necessary help to climb the ladder of success they desire, never realizing the true source—God. Man knows that pleasing people helps people to like them, so they will at times compromise their own morals to please people to get certain positions in life. In their heart they know they are not being true; they lie. They know they are just using those people, but they know they must profess to please in order to be benefitted.

Use this same principle in the context of God. If we seek to please God, He, in turn, will show approbation and bestow His blessing upon us. We will not have to grovel at the feet of mankind because our Source is more powerful and more capable than any human being in supplying all of our needs.

Most churches today want to be culturally relevant. They will tell you that if you want to keep the young people in church you must worship the way they enjoy it. What then is going to happen to the church? What is going to happen to the principles of righteousness? What is going to happen to exalting the truth, if that truth is watered down in order to keep the members? Whom are we thinking to please? We want to be successful, but we do not want to do it God’s way.

We need to realize this most important step towards success. Putting God first does not in any way eliminate love for one another and treating one another right. How would God be pleased if we were to betray the brethren? What God wants from us is to live and speak in harmony with that which He is willing to hear and willing to see. When we can please God, we can then please our fellow man. Sometimes they may not like it, but the truth of the matter is, God must come first.

In regard to the church, when God allocates a responsibility, it needs to be taken seriously. This is not done to please the pastor or an elder, but it is done to please God. We would not grumble if asked to do a task for an employer because we know that it would affect our job, but some think we can grumble with God and it is okay—no, it is not okay!

Our attitude in returning God’s tithe reveals how much we are living for self, versus living for God. Some even hold God ransom in the way His church is held ransom by saying, “They did not do what I wanted, so I will teach them a lesson and hold back my tithe from them.” God gives each of us an opportunity to prove whether we love Him or not, whether we believe His word or not, whether we will please Him or please ourselves. Every action performed that is contrary to God’s principle of righteousness is recorded. Are we taking time to faithfully record and calculate our tithe in the way that we should to make sure that we do not rob God? If God makes a command known to us, it is a command, a requirement, and we will be judged based upon our faithfulness to that knowledge. This principle applies not only to tithing but also to all of His commands.

It is not just a matter of whether or not we keep the Sabbath holy. We allow Satan to fool us into thinking that because we keep the Sabbath while we disregard the other commandments God will still be pleased with us.

In regard to success even in finances, most people are accustomed to reading the familiar passage where the Lord promises that if we believe, He will open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing, which we will not be able to receive (Malachi 3:7–10). Most of the time we do not believe that God means what He says, and when we don’t see the blessing pouring out upon us, we tell ourselves that we cannot really believe the Bible. How can God turn around and bless those who do not consistently comply with His will? God sees the end from the beginning, and He can tell if we are going to keep on doing the right thing or not. Why then should He bestow a blessing upon us when He knows that in two weeks or two months we are going to stop?

“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:2–6.

This was a lesson the Lord was trying to teach through the experience of Israel. His brethren had disregarded the house of God. The church was not as important to them as their own homes, forgetting that the key to success was to first please God. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” They did not believe that principle, so they were putting all of their earnings into bags with holes. Malachi 3:10, 11 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” God’s concern is that there is meat in due season for the saving of souls. God says, “Bring ye all.” Either we obey or disobey. The Lord says, “I will take care of you but you must please Me first.”

The secret to be truly successful in life is to live to please God first and believe He will provide for all other needs. Nothing else will bring happiness into our lives or into our families or homes.

Truth often hurts, and in times past, prophets were stoned to death because they said things that the people did not want to hear. They did not live to please the people and neither should we be afraid to speak and live the truth. Today, stoning takes on a new guise than in times past. Those who are hid in Christ and doing the will of the Father will not be hurt by the stones, but the one who does the throwing will be.

It is time to make changes. God is in need of genuine Christians—not fakes, hypocrites, or jokers. We are growing closer and closer to the end of time and need the Lord to be near. Living a selfish life pleasing either ourselves or other people is what has brought this planet to where it is today. Instead of looking to please God, her Creator, Eve decided to please the serpent, believing his lies. Then Adam, deciding to please his wife, went ahead and ate the forbidden fruit, knowing it was wrong and not pleasing to God.

We do the same, not realizing that the closest and most beneficial relationship possible is one with God. “The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work. For a long time the Lord has been robbed because there are those who do not realize that the tithe is God’s reserved portion.” Counsels on Stewardship, 93.

Paul said, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9, 10.

These brethren understood that they needed to live a righteous life. We need a relationship with the Lord like we have never seen or had before to understand the secret of their success. We are being prepared for a time of trouble such as never was, and we need to have an experience such as never was. We need the success of those who went ahead of us. They knew that God was pleased when they were seeking for His knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. If we cannot find the time to make earnest efforts to study but still find time to watch TV, play games, hang out with our friends and do other things that we enjoy, how can we be pleasing in His sight? We can always seem to make time for the things we consider important. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. It is impossible to please God without faith and impossible to have faith without knowing Him. God always tells us the truth; He never lies, and He is hurt when we do not believe and trust Him. To doubt God is nothing less than calling Him a liar.

“In our work for God there is danger of relying too largely upon what man with his talents and ability can do. Thus we lose sight of the one Master Worker. Too often the worker for Christ fails to realize his personal responsibility. He is in danger of shifting his burden upon organizations, instead of relying upon Him who is the source of all strength. It is a great mistake to trust in human wisdom or numbers in the work of God.” The Desire of Ages, 370.

God wants a people who are searching for truth, for only truth can sanctify and transform lives. “Successful work for Christ depends not so much on numbers or talent as upon pureness of purpose, the true simplicity of earnest, dependent faith. Personal responsibilities must be borne, personal duties must be taken up, personal efforts must be made for those who do not know Christ. In the place of shifting your responsibility upon someone whom you think more richly endowed than you are, work according to your ability.” Ibid.

It is essential that each member of the church see that he/she has a personal responsibility in the success of that church. No matter how many relinquish their responsibilities, we have to say to ourselves, “I will do it.” We are not here to please ourselves but to please God. We were created for His pleasure.

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20. Here we see that to please God is to obey. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7. No one wants their family or their neighbors to be their enemies. At times they may not like us, but they will avoid having confrontation because of the connection we have with Somebody mightier than they, just as ancient Israel’s enemies were afraid because they knew that the Israelites were the friends of a God whom they did not know. There are many examples where the heathen tried to make peace with them and stay out of their way.

The wise man said, “I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.” Ecclesiastes 7:25, 26. There is a time of trouble coming, and we need God’s protection and blessings.

Pleasing God brings success. Jesus’ success came from His Father. He declared, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” John 8:29. Jesus pleased His Father by always doing His will. He had the assurance of His Father’s presence continually. That same experience is available to all who diligently seek after Him with all of their heart and obey His word.

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” I John 3:22.

Pastor Patrick Herbert is the pastor of Tucker-Norcross Free Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in the state of Georgia. He also pastors several sister churches in North Carolina, Michigan, and elsewhere. He is the director of The Gilead Institute of America, an outreach and medical missionary evangelistic training institute started in 1990, and is presently the chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Free Seventh-day Adventists, a worldwide network of historic self-supporting churches and ministries. Pastor Herbert holds a doctorate in religion and has written a number of books and articles on religious and health topics. He also travels throughout the United States and internationally to promote present truth. He has a monthly sermon CD and newsletter with topics covering end-time events and practical Christian living. He may be contacted by e-mail at:

The Goal

Life today is very busy, and each day does not seem to get any slower, only faster. Weeks go flying by and things that we plan to accomplish often do not happen. There just never seems to be enough time. Like most people, I have many goals for my life. When I was younger my goal was to make it through college and become an engineer. As I have become older and reached some of those goals, I have made different ones to reach, but none of them are ever reached without personal effort. Sometimes these goals can consume much time, and we must be careful not to become so absorbed and so busy that we forget the most important things in life. Jesus told a parable of a sower who went out to sow seed (Matthew 13:3). Some of the seed fell among thorns and were choked out (verse 7). That can also happen with our important goals; they can be choked out by the cares of this life.

“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched.” Education, 262.

Human examples of people who reach goals

Olympics – For Michael Phelps to reach his Olympic swimming goals he had to do some work. Firstly, he had to think about his diet and make sure that he ate enough to make up for the amount of physical exertion from swimming. Secondly, he had to have a workout plan. As well as practicing his different swimming strokes, he lifted weights and had a whole training program, especially tailored for his swimming goals.

Those who have high goals go to great lengths to achieve them. Their whole life is centered around it, and they are totally focused on the prize before them.

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.” – Og Mandino quotes (American Essayist and Psychologist, 1923-1996).<> December 2010.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo quotes (Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet, considered the creator of the Renaissance, 1475–1564). Ibid.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson quotes American Third United States President (1801-09). Author of the Declaration of Independence (1762–1826). Ibid.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Abraham Lincoln.

“You’ll fail at a 100 percent of the goals you don’t set.” – Mark Victor Hansen.

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. … It’s as simple as that.” – Earl Nightingale quotes (United States motivational writer and author, 1921–1989).

My question for Christians

What is our goal? What is the single most important thing that we should be reaching for? The apostle Paul talked about his own life that according to outward appearance he was a good person keeping the law. But he said he counted all these things as loss for Christ. What he really needed was to know Christ; not have an outward observance of the law, but have Christ and His righteousness because all our righteousness is as filthy rages. He wanted to know Christ. He said not that he was already perfect, but he pressed on that he might lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of for him. Paul pressed on toward the goal of perfection, to reflect Christ’s character, to be ready for heaven. He said that he once just kept the law outwardly, but that was not righteousness. Only Christ can provide the righteousness. (See Philippians 3:1–16.)

The Christian’s goal is to seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things will be provided. First, let us define what heaven is. Heaven is more than just a place, even though there is a place called heaven.

“Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’ (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts.” The Desire of Ages, 641.

Before we are ready to go to heaven, we have to have heaven in our hearts.

How are we going to reach the goal?

Generally, humans have to focus on one thing at a time to reach their goal. If you want to become a physician, you would not go to a mechanic school. At the same time you cannot become a physician in just one day. It would be impossible to take all the training necessary to be a physician in one day, one month, or even one year. Much study, time and effort are needed before taking the examinations to reach that goal. Goals are only reached by taking one step at a time.

Heaven Our Goal

If heaven is our goal, what are some steps that we can take that will help us reach that goal? What can we do today to help us be ready to live in the holy atmosphere of heaven?

The most important things that we can do to help us be ready is to spend time with God every day, in prayer and Bible study. After that, ask yourself, What am I doing today to help reach the goal of the Christian—heaven? It will certainly be different things for each of us. There may be some things that we need to do to help others. Maybe there is some sin that needs to be overcome with God’s help.

If heaven is our goal it must be foremost on our mind, thinking about it every day because no goal is ever reached without effort or thought. No one wins a race by not thinking about it. I Corinthians 9:24–27; Matthew 13:44–46. With all of the cares in this life it is necessary to prioritize and make sure that time is set aside for the most important goal.

What is Heaven like?

1 Corinthians 2:9 – eye has not seen

Isaiah 11:6–9 – no hurt in God’s holy mountain

Isaiah 25:8, 9 – no death or tears

Isaiah 33:17, 24 – see the king; not say I am sick

Isaiah 35:5–10 – no sickness or sorrow

Isaiah 51:11 – come to Zion with singing

Isaiah 65:17–25 – new heaven and new earth, not hurt

Heaven is a worthy goal! It is a wonderful place. There is no sadness or hurt there. If we are planning on being there we must first have heaven in our hearts here on earth. If it is a desirable place to be, then we must be desirable people to be around. If people find us odious, maybe we need to ask God to help us, so people will start saying that it is like heaven to be in our presence.

“Make the home life as nearly as possible like heaven. Let the members of the family forget not, as they gather round the family altar, to pray for the men in positions of responsibility in God’s work.” Child Guidance, 548.

What is Jesus’ Goal for Us?

“The religion of Christ never degrades the receiver; it never makes him coarse or rough, discourteous or self-important, passionate or hardhearted. On the contrary, it refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and purifies and ennobles the thoughts, bringing them into captivity to Christ. God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. He has given in His holy law a transcript of His character.

“The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. There is opened before us a path of constant advancement. We have an object to gain, a standard to reach, that includes everything good and pure and noble and elevated. There should be continual striving and constant progress onward and upward toward perfection of character.

“We shall be individually, for time and eternity, what our habits make us. The lives of those who form right habits, and are faithful in the performance of every duty, will be as shining lights, shedding bright beams upon the pathway of others; but if habits of unfaithfulness are indulged, if lax, indolent, neglectful habits are allowed to strengthen, a cloud darker than midnight will settle on the prospects in this life and forever debar the individual from the future life.” Counsels for the Church, 78, 79.

“You may reach God’s ideal if you will resolve that self shall not be woven into your work. To know that you are striving in spirit and in works to be Christlike, will give you strength and comfort and courage. It is your privilege to become meek and lowly in heart; then angels of God will co-operate with you in your revival efforts. Christ died that His life might be lived in you, and in all who make Him their example. In the strength of your Redeemer you can reveal the character of Christ, and you can work in wisdom and in power to make the crooked places straight.” Gospel Workers, 164.

“Earnestly and untiringly we are to strive to reach God’s ideal for us. Not as a penance are we to do this, but as the only means of gaining true happiness. The only way to gain peace and joy is to have a living connection with Him who gave His life for us, who died that we might live, and who lives to unite His power with the efforts of those who are striving to overcome.

“Holiness is constant agreement with God. Shall we not strive to be that which Christ so greatly desires us to be—Christians in deed and in truth—that the world may see in our lives a revelation of the saving power of truth? This world is our preparatory school. While here we shall meet with trials and difficulties. Continually the enemy of God will seek to draw us away from our allegiance. But while we cleave to Him who gave Himself for us we are safe.” In Heavenly Places, 33.

“I urge you to turn your thoughts from worldly things and center them on the things of eternity. Christ has placed everlasting life within your reach, and He has promised to give you help in every time of need. … We should never rest satisfied with present attainments. If we put mind and heart into the work of reaching God’s ideal for us, if we go to Christ, the mighty helper, for aid, He will give us the very assistance that we need. He will bestow on us the very power that will enable us to be victorious in the struggle against evil.” Ibid., 355.

“The power of a higher, purer, nobler life is our great need. The world has too much of our thought, and the kingdom of heaven too little.

“In his efforts to reach God’s ideal for him, the Christian is to despair of nothing. Moral and spiritual perfection, through the grace and power of Christ, is promised to all. Jesus is the source of power, the fountain of life. He brings us to His word, and from the tree of life presents to us leaves for the healing of sin-sick souls. He leads us to the throne of God, and puts into our mouth a prayer through which we are brought into close contact with Himself. In our behalf He sets in operation the all-powerful agencies of heaven. At every step we touch His living power.

“God fixes no limit to the advancement of those who desire to be ‘filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.’ Through prayer, through watchfulness, through growth in knowledge and understanding, they are to be ‘strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.’ Thus they are prepared to work for others. It is the Saviour’s purpose that human beings, purified and sanctified, shall be His helping hand. For this great privilege let us give thanks to Him who ‘hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son’ [Colossians 1:9, 11–13].” The Acts of the Apostles, 478. [All emphasis supplied.]

Jesus’ goal for us is to be one with Him (John 17:18-26); to be so much in love with Him that we are like Him in character; to spend so much time with Him that He will know without a doubt that we never want to be separated from Him, but desire to be with Him in heaven forever.

Recently, as I was driving and listening to a Christian radio station, I heard a man share some of his story. He spoke of his parents how, as he was growing up, they never showed any affection for each other. He said he was certain that they loved each other, but he never saw any evidence of affection. When he met his future wife, she was a very outgoing, caring person who loved people, and it was she who really showed him true love. After they married, they went as missionaries to a foreign land and on their return to the United States of America he was offered the position of president at a Christian college. His wife helped him on campus by counseling people, doing a radio program, and entertaining people in their home. While they were at the college, he noticed that his wife started to become forgetful, which she had never been before. They soon discovered that at fifty-five years old she had developed Alzheimer’s. The disease progressed to the point where his wife needed full-time care, so he quit his position at the college and stayed home to take care of his wife. They would go on daily walks together until she was physically unable to do that. She had not spoken to him for a full year, and then one day, on Valentine’s Day, he said to his wife, “I love you!” She responded to those words as he went over to her bed and gave her a big hug. That was the last day she ever said a word. He took care of his wife for 15 years before she died. He said, “I loved her so much! The hard thing was that she could not respond to my love, but I loved her anyway.” Every day he was there showering his love on her and caring for her, though she could not respond.

Every day Jesus is here showering us with His love, taking care of us, waiting to see if we will respond in some way to His love. But sometimes all we do is complain when we think that His care hurts us because we are going through a bad experience.

God waits for us to respond to His love, to trust Him that He is working all things out for our good. He gives and gives to us, and then He waits patiently for a response. He wants us to love Him back and be one with Him. Just the thought that God wants to have the same relationship with me that He shares with His Son is beyond what I can take in and sends shivers down my body.

Doesn’t that make you want to have that same relationship with God? Is that a goal you would desire to reach? What are you doing about it? Are you reaching out every day to the goal God has for you? If not, why not start today? Jesus wants us to be one with Him just as He is one with the Father. He is showering His love on each of us right now and waiting for our response. Don’t keep Him waiting any longer!

Jana Grosboll, a network engineer, lives in Derby, Kansas.