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Success - When All The Pieces Fit
"...If people wish to ACCOMPLISH much, they must be temperate..." - Barnes' Notes                                                                                                   
"One rainy Sunday afternoon, a father was babysitting his children and had the task of keeping them entertained. He assigned specific tasks to each child. To keep his 10-year old son busy, he had torn a full-page map of the United States out of a magazine, cut it into small pieces, and told his son to reassemble it as a jigsaw puzzle. To the father's amazement, his son presented him with the completed puzzle in just a few minutes. 'How did you do it, son?' he asked. 'It was easy,' the boy replied. 'At first, when I tried to fit together all those little lines and dots and and the small print on the map, it looked like an impossible job. Then I saw part of a man's face on the back of one of the pieces. So I turned the pieces over, and when I got the man together, the United States took care of itself.'
The jigsaw puzzle of life makes sense and we get it all together when we live our life against the background of Christ. That is, faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord makes all the pieces fit." - Encyclopedia Of Sermon Illustrations    
So many today are looking for Success. Many have undertaken to write about the subject. But what exactly is Success and how can we accomplish it in our Daily Lives as Christians?                                                                      
We believe that the above illustration offers us a quality definition of it as well as the goal for which we should strive in order to experience it - "...That is, faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord makes all the pieces fit."                                           
Success is then defined as having all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
How is this accomplished?
Only through faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord.                                                     
As Christians, we all have set God-given goals or undertaken projects that we are striving to accomplish, complete, fulfill, or achieve. But how do we reach our level of fulfillment or the finish line, so to speak?                                       
Let's look into the Scriptures for wisdom in this area. May we receive from the Holy Spirit the necessary instruction in order that we may reach our peak of success in the undertakings set before us.                                                        
1. What Has God Called Us To Accomplish?
1 Corinthians 9:24 says - "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."                                                 
The Apostle Paul had a Passion to fulfill his ministry at all costs. Do you have the same Passion? He likened his Pursuit of Excellence to a foot race. Hence, this entailed commitment; perseverance; strenuous and consistent preparation; undergoing utmost exertion, self-denial, and great privations in order to "receive the prize" or obtain the goal.                                                             
Stop and ask yourself these questions, O Saint of God.
Does your Christian walk entail commitment, perseverance, strenuous and consistent preparation, exertion, self-denial, and great privations?
Is there a God-inspired goal that you are striving to reach?
Or are you simply coasting or floating downstream - traveling the road of least resistance?                                              
While striving for the mastery..."obtain" his "crown"... or reach the finish line, Paul made an effort to always keep his eyes on Jesus - the "author and finisher" of His Faith(Hebrews 12:2).                                              
Can you say that your coach and greatest motivator is the Lord Jesus?
Are you spending quality time with Him in order to receive your "game-plan" from Him?
Are you totally dependent on Him or are you filled with self-reliance at times?
Do you take the initiative and step out into realms that He never intended for you by doing your own thing?                                    
2. Have We Counted The Cost?                                                          
1 Corinthians 9:25 says - "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things..."
1 Corinthians 9:26 says - "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly..."
1 Corinthians 9:26 says - "...so fight I, not as one that beateth the air."
1 Corinthians 9:27 says - "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection..."
John 15:2 says - "...and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."                                                                 
In order to reach fulfillment in the work assigned to us by the Lord, there are certain measures that we must take. One is that we must abstain from all sorts of fleshly indulgences or luxurious or "easygoing" living that would weaken us spiritually.                                                       
We cannot "run" "uncertainly" - haphazardly, obscurely, or ignorantly. We must have a goal, aim, or "crown" in view at all times.                                                     
We must be careful that we do not waste our spiritual energy on things that are not productive for the Kingdom of God - things that don't line up with the purpose that God has assigned for us. We cannot afford to be distracted or diverted from the goal set before us. If so, we will be likened unto one who "beats the air" or misses the aim. Due to a lack of wisdom, skill, perseverance, power, objective, or plan, many discover that they are wasting their energies by striking at the wrong things or enemies.                                                 
What is absolutely necessary for success is a rigid and severe discipline program. The "body" or flesh must be brought into "subjection." All corrupt and carnal inclinations must be subdued and conquered.                                                 
Every runner must be willing to throw aside anything that impedes his progress in running the race set before him. Like a branch on a vine, he must be willing to undergo a "purging" of all that hinders or opposes his fruitfulness or usefulness - that which binds up his affections and renders him inactive for God.                                                  
What about you, O Child of God?
Are you abstaining from fleshly indulgences?
Are you steering clear of the "easygoing" life that tends to make you weak spiritually?
Do you have a goal in view as you run your race?
Or have you allowed all kinds of distractions to come your way to sidetrack you from it?
Are you wasting your spiritual energies by fighting "flesh and blood" rather than spiritual foes?
Do you find that your prayers and efforts "miss the mark"?
Do you subject your flesh to a rigid and severe discipline program in order to keep it in subjection to the Word and Spirit of God?
Are you getting rid of things or people in your life which are slowing you down or "spoiling" your soul - "messing up" your spirit?
3. Who Is Our Source of Accomplishment - Christ Or Self?
Philippians 4:13 says - "I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me."
John 15:1,4,5 says - "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman...Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me...He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing."  
The Apostle Paul did not have a self-reliance in seeking to perform his assigned duties. He knew where his source of strength and grace was found. Therefore, he leaned heavily on the Arm of the Lord for power to meet the challenges, bear all sorts of trials, and subdue any and all evil propensities and temptations of the flesh. 
He did not look to himself - any natural abilities or strengths. He did not resort to willful resolutions. All of his strength came from the Lord Jesus - His one and only Source of Power to succeed.
What about you, O Saint of God?
Are you united to Jesus by a Living Faith?
Are you totally dependent on Him for everything?
Or are there areas where you exercise self-sufficiency?
Are you "abiding" in Jesus whereby others can see His help and influence in your Daily Walk?
Are you wise in His Wisdom, strong because of His strength, and pure through His holiness?
4. Are We Giving God The Glory?
Psalm 118:23 says - "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
What this Scripture is actually saying is - This is from the Lord; it bears the marks of a Divine Intervention and resultantly, is matter for great wonder, amazement, and excitement.
When others see success in your life, do they immediately attribute it to the hand of Almighty God?
Do they trace your spiritual progress to Him alone?
Does your testimony emphasize or stress that your success is not attributed to human wisdom or power?
In closing, we refer to the final words from our opening illustration - "The jigsaw puzzle of life makes sense and we get it all together when we live our life against the background of Christ. That is, faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord makes all the pieces fit."
Perhaps it would be conducive at this time to examine the direction of your ministry or life. Are you living your life against the "background of Christ"? That will determine if the "pieces" of your "puzzle" are fitting together.
Are they?
If not, then it's time to get Christ back into the picture.
Make Him the center and you will succeed in all of your ventures.
The Holy Spirit will see to it!
May God Bless His Word. 
COPYRIGHT Connie Giordano - All Rights Reserved