A recipe for success

by Marilyn Mathis

The celebration of the New Year is as old as ancient Babylon. The Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year, but not on Jan. 1. Historians have determined their holiday was in March.

Through the years, many days have been designated by different cultures to celebrate the ending of the old year and the arrival of the new one. These days have included Christmas Day, Easter and several days in March. Jan. 1 became generally recognized as New Year’s Day in the 1500s.

Many customs or traditions mark this holiday.

In ancient Persia, they gave “eggs” to their friends. Because an egg hatches into life, this custom meant the same thing as “turning over a new leaf.”

English people cleaned the chimneys on New Year’s Day. This was supposed to bring good luck to the household during the coming year. Today we say “cleaning the slate” instead of “cleaning the chimneys.” This meant making resolutions to correct faults and bad habits and resolving to make the New Year better.

English husbands gave their wives money on New Year’s Day to buy enough pins for the whole year. This custom stopped in the 1800s when machines were developed to manufacture pins. But the term “pin money” still refers to small amounts of spending money.

In Spain, eating 12 grapes at the New Year brings good luck for the next 12 months.

In Scotland, when you enter a person’s house for the first time in the New Year, you bring a lump of coal and a piece of bread so that your friends will be warm and well fed all year.

In the South, you eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. The more peas you eat, the more prosperous the coming year.

Why practice these things? Do you really believe that eating black-eyed peas will provide good luck, prosperity or success?

Most of us don’t, but we do have an inner desire to be successful and prosperous. How do we do that in 2014?

Joshua 1 gives us a “recipe for success.” Joshua is the successor of Moses. He has been called by God to lead the nation of Israel. The people are ready to go in and take possession of the land promised to them by God. There is a new leader and a new land; “they have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4). God’s instruction to Joshua and the people is found in chapter 1:

“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (1:7-8).

Did you notice that twice God mentioned success? What was His plan for them?

Read and re-read the Word. Don’t let it “depart from your mouth.”

Meditate on the Word day and night. In the Hebrew, to meditate means to ponder, muse, to mutter, to murmur. At times, the Scriptures were read audibly during meditation. To read the Bible without reflecting is like eating without chewing. Chewing brings out the flavor of food and adds to our enjoyment and health. The same is true of seriously thinking about what you read in Scripture.

Obey the Word. Be careful to do all that is written in it.

What does God promise if you do these things?

You will stay on track. You will not “turn to the right or to the left,” but stay on the path God has for you.

Success! When competing, each runner or swimmer has his or her own lane or track. To be successful, they must stay in their designated place. God has a track, or path, for each of us. Success is ours when we stay on His path. If we get off track, He promises that “your ears will hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” God wants us to be successful!

The Bible is bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions. May you feast on His Word every day of 2014. “Then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”


A Conway resident, Marilyn Mathis is a wife, mother, Nana and teaching leader for First Wednesday Lunch Break. Readers can reach her at [email protected].