I've been thinking of late of how much of my life and ministry has been dependent upon outward things giving me a sense of worth and fulfillment.  Like so many others, I thought happiness and fulfillment was found in being loved, in relationships.  Having this would fulfill and complete me, not having it would leave me empty, incomplete.  Likewise, in my field of labor, in my case, ministry, achieving, increasing, being seen and recognized as successful, would enhance my sense of self-worth, that I would be living a life that made a difference, a life that was recognized by others as one that mattered.  The great problem was and is, is that when these things are not happening, are missing from life, than life itself is just the opposite of what is so desired.  I end up being captive to my desires and definition of success and worth, and not only are those things missing from my life, but so is the joy, peace, and fulfillment that can come only from Him.  At root, I have bought into a lie, a lie that slowly eats away at the core of my being, and in doing so, miss the fullness of all that He is and means to be to me.
    In Isaiah 44:20, the Father speaks to the people saying of their trust in things that are not Him, "He is trusting in something that can give him no help at all.  Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, 'Is this thing, this idol that I'm holding in my hand, a lie' "  When we place our value, our worth and well being in anything that is not Him, whether it be a relationship, a profession, and especially I think, a ministry, we hold something in our hand that is a lie, and anything, no matter how worthy, how good, that takes us away from Him, is just that, a lie.  Yet, we can continue to go on in that lie.  Our emotions, our spirits, are tossed in every direction, enslaved to people, results, and the opinions and esteem of others, others who are not Him, yet control us while He does not.  
   It is human to desire to be loved.  It is human to want to achieve and be fruitful.  The snare is in the fact that we can so easily allow these desires to become our masters.  Masters that are never satisfied, and like the taskmasters of Egypt towards the Hebrew slaves, constantly whip and beat us.  Therefore, the love of another is never enough because nothing they can do can satisfy that deep desire to be loved, so we end up frustrated and eventually, go looking elsewhere, thinking that in the next person, we'll find it.  Job or ministry achievement can bring temporary satisfaction, but we soon find out that the expectation is always for more of it.  "Fruit" is no longer measured and defined by Him, but by our and others flesh.    The Father said that He has loved us with "an everlasting love."  Until we truly enter into that, know it, and are sustained by it, we will only know emptiness, and constantly seek to satisfy our need for love in others who can never really supply it.  We must first know it and find it in Him.  In the same way, when we allow Him to define what success is, what fruitfulness is, we find a well being, a peace, joy, and fulfillment beyond words.  We are stewards of His life, and His word says of stewards that they are "required to be faithful."  If we have, wherever He has placed us, been faithful stewards of His life, than in that place, we are fruitful, regardless of what appearances may be, for He is always working with eternity in mind, not just today, or even tomorrow.
   I heard Beth Moore say to the effect that if there is anything in our lives that we feel we cannot be without, that we must have in order to go on, and if that "anything" is not Him, than it is in that "anything" that we will be most vulnerable.  In that place, we may expect the enemy to literally "unleash hell" against that vulnerability.....and we will fall.  Yet, if we have found our life, our meaning, the fulfillment of our deepest needs in Him, than we are living, as Isaiah said, "surrounded by the walls His salvation." ......So, to what and whom are we prisoner?  Our own and others expectations?  Our need to be accepted, recognized, loved?  Dare we believe that all of these, and all else, really can be satisfied in Christ?  Paul called himself the prisoner of Christ, and was free.  May we be his fellow prisoner as well, and so free of every other jailer.

Blessings,
Pastor O
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  April 2018  
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