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Human beings can achieve many things, though any achievement which disregards God is futile. God always achieves what he intends. Anything of eternal value needs God-given resources.

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Kinds of human achievement

Accumulation of wealth

Esther 1:4 NRSV
while he displayed the great wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and pomp of his majesty for many days, one hundred eighty days in all.
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Political power

Genesis 41:41–43 NRSV
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt.
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Great learning

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Military victory

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Acts of courage

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Spiritual achievements

Romans 15:19 NRSV
by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.
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Limitations of human achievements

Human achievements can lead to pride

Isaiah 10:12–15 NRSV
When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones. My hand has found, like a nest, the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened its mouth, or chirped.” Shall the ax vaunt itself over the one who wields it, or the saw magnify itself against the one who handles it? As if a rod should raise the one who lifts it up, or as if a staff should lift the one who is not wood!
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Human achievements can give false security

Luke 12:16–20 NRSV
Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
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Human achievements are ultimately futile

Ecclesiastes 2:11 NRSV
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
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Human achievements do not lead to justification

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God can thwart human achievements

God will overthrow all human achievement that is in opposition to him.
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God’s achievements

God’s purposes are always accomplished

Isaiah 46:10 NRSV
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,”
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Creation as God’s achievement

Psalm 104:24 NRSV
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
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Salvation as God’s achievement

Hebrews 7:25 NRSV
Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
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Spiritual resources for human achievements

Achieving things with God’s help

Psalm 127:1 NRSV
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
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Achieving things by faith

Mark 9:23 NRSV
Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.”
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Achieving things through prayer

John 14:13–14 NRSV
I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
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Achievements out of trials and sorrows

2 Corinthians 4:17 NRSV
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,
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Achieving things with the help of fellow believers

Galatians 6:2 NRSV
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
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