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Dealing with Success

Dealing with Success

Words of Faith 3-28-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 4

    [38] Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. [39] So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

    [40] When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. [41] Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.

    [42] At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. [43] But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." [44] And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.


     One of the unique things about Luke is that he gives attention to the larger patterns in the ministry of Jesus while Mark gives more details about the Capernaum ministry of Jesus.  Luke sees the bigger picture and helps us to grasp the larger flow of things.  Already Luke has shown us how Jesus dealt with apparent failure.  Now he shows us a time of great success.

      Jesus was rejected at Nazareth, but it did not seem to faze Him.  Jesus marched right on with a peculiar sort of confidence.  He seemed almost strengthened by the "defeat" as if He was confirmed by the rejection at Nazareth.  There may be a powerful truth in that.  There are times when rejection, by some, may be our greatest endorsement! 

      Jesus knew that to be rejected by those who are not in tune with God's Spirit was a confirmation that He was on the right track! Paul said it this way in his second letter to the Corinthians-- "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?   (2 Cor. 2:15 16)

      Perhaps that is why, at a time when we might have expected Jesus to be weak or defeated, He was stronger than ever!  This rejection was simply a confirmation.  The truth is that if we are not rejected by someone, we may be way off track.  

      Luke helps us to see that larger pattern of response.  At a time when we might have been licking the wounds of Nazareth, Jesus headed back to Capernaum confident and ready.  In Capernaum, Jesus experienced what could only be described as huge success.  As bad as Nazareth was, Capernaum was good. 

      In fact, Jesus got on sort of a roll.  He cast a devil out of the man in the synagogue and then headed over to Simon's mother-in-law's house only to find she had been home sick with a fever.  Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and she rose up to serve everyone who has gathered.

      As soon as the Sabbath is ended at sunset the people came in like a flood.  Suddenly there were sick people and demon-possessed folks everywhere and Jesus was setting them free.  It was a day of victory and genuine revival, a "Kingdom come thy will be done" day. People were set free from bondage and slavery that had been on them for a long time.

      Devils came out kicking and screaming and wanting to get up and make their case but Jesus would have nothing of it!  It was one great day for God in Capernaum.  Can you imagine a day when no one goes away empty or with needs unmet? Every manner of disease was conquered at least for that day. 

       So where do you go and what do you do when you have such success?  Luke's presentation suggests that while it is important how you handle defeat (Nazareth), it may be more important how you handle success (Capernaum).  There were a couple of choices.  It would have been tempting to do everything possible to keep this revival going. When a powerful work of God breaks out you don't even need to publicize!  With just a little bit of effort Capernaum could be a cozy ministry center with big crowds, big money and big miracles.  That was the choice that would make the most sense.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Use this window of opportunity as long as it is open. 

       But just as this movement was beginning, Jesus was nowhere to be found.  Some had become enamored by the success and were ready organize this thing. But they suddenly realized that Jesus, the star of the show, was gone. Where was He?  He was already out of town in a "solitary place".   Mark tells us that He was in prayer. 

       When the people found Him and wanted to know what time the revival meeting would start that night, Jesus had an interesting answer. The meeting tonight is somewhere else, in the next town up the road.

       We can almost hear the reply.  What?  Everyone here is expecting you here.  They are already clamoring to find you.  Their mouths and hearts are filled with praise for you!   Everyone is talking.  The meeting tonight will be huge! The offerings will be great.  They want a night just like last night but bigger!  They want to see the healing and miracles and demons cast out just like yesterday. 

        What did Jesus say?  Nope.  That was yesterday.  That's not where I will be tonight.  "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."  And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. He moved on.  At the moment of His greatest success, Jesus walked away. He withdrew. He prayed and moved on.

        What a strange pattern.   After Nazareth, at the moment of apparent defeat, when withdrawal seemed appropriate, Jesus charged ahead.  Now, at the moment of apparent success, Jesus withdrew and then walked away.  What was going on here?

        An interesting truth is that we are never more vulnerable than after victory.  Any coach will tell you that.  A wise coach almost dreads the huge victory, the rout, because the team is so vulnerable afterwards.  The parties are loud, the players start to swagger, and the rivals begin to plot. The wise coach knows there is a good chance that a victorious team is in for a fall.  

      The most vulnerable time for us spiritually is after a great and powerful visitation of the Spirit.  We would think just the opposite.  But the enemy comes against us in force right after a healing, a powerful word, or a mighty confirmation. We are most vulnerable and our human temptations are greatest at that time.  We begin to think we have God figured out.  We have a plan.  We are going to organize and orchestrate. God is clearly on my team.

       Ask any preacher who preaches in the power of the Spirit, and you will learn that the most vulnerable time of life is right after a mighty success for God.  After a great sermon, a great service, a great time of anointing, or a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this is the time when a minister is vulnerable to the barb, the criticism, the dart, the temptation or the words of praise and flattery.  That may sound strange but never is life more confusing than when our heads are swimming with the sounds of success. 

     Now was Jesus really vulnerable?  If Jesus was not capable of temptation then His sinless life means nothing.  Scripture tells us he was tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  The humanity of Jesus had to walk with extraordinary care in such times.  His pattern is a great example for us.

     Jesus knew better than to listen to flattering words.  Jesus went to a solitary place to get the agenda for the week from His boss.  Jesus withdrew knowing that success takes as much if not more out of you than defeat.  While the victory party was still going at Capernaum, Jesus was going out to focus.  The Scripture indicates that this was, in fact, the habit of Jesus, but especially in the times of victory.  There is power in a place of solitude every day.   Jesus needed to be where the only voice in His ear was that of the Lord. 

       What do we do with this?  We need to learn that what appears to be a failure with rejection may just be the confirmation that we are walking correctly with God.  We also need to learn that the times of great success become a distraction if we do not have a pattern of listening to God.  We need solitude.  We need the discipline of listening.


      Father God, I am here for my meeting with You.  Show me the ways that rejection have only confirmed a faithful walk with You.  Show me the power of listening to Your voice rather than the flattering words of the world.  Show me the next step.  Show me Your plan for me.  In Jesus' name.