Saturday, December 23, 2006

To Those Who Are Annoyed and Worn Out...

Acts 16:14 One of those who listened to us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in fabrics dyed in purple. She was [already] a worshiper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized along with her household, she earnestly entreated us, saying, If in your opinion I am one really convinced [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation] {and} that I will be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she induced us [to do it].
Acts 16:16 As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling.
Acts 16:17 She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly, These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation!
Acts 16:18 And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed {and} worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment.

I had to ask God this morning, Lord what is going on that is allowing so many of the leaders to be frustrated by those that follow them. Of course, the world has its distractions, but what is the problem in the Body of Christ.

I am hearing so many say they feel they are walking alone and that those who walk with them or who are submitted to them seem to be MIA. While I am not a pastor, I must admit that I am feeling many of the same feelings. "What is it, Lord?"

My Father led me to this scripture and opened my eyes to something. This is a word of encouragement for those in leadership. Paul was approached by a woman of God, a true worshipper, who invited him to REST. She called forth Paul's faith in believing that she was a true woman of God rather than dictating to him who she was. In other words, instead of proclaiming to Paul what her ministry assignment was, she asked him to allow God to show him her true heart. She didn't boast of herself, but allowed God to reveal her intentions and purpose to the leader under which she was to submit. When God confirmed, Paul was able to REST.

The scripture then says that the new follower was with the leader ON THE WAY TO PRAYER. As they were seeking the Father in unity, a slave approached them. The fact that the girl was a slave is significant because it shows that she BELONGED TO SOMEONE ELSE. Oftentimes in ministry, we say with our mouths that we are submitted to a leader, but we are really slaves to someone else - another person, another church, our own agenda, etc.

The Word goes on to explain how this slave was possessed with a spirit of divination, which proved profitable to her owners. In ministry, we often see that those who are out of place are the very ones who thought they were more valued elsewhere. They are often the ones who have been placed in the spotlight, but never realized they were only being used. They are often the ones who feel mistreated when they are asked to remain obscure and are not able to be seen.

Though the slave never became FREE from her owners, she followed Paul and had the APPEARANCE of a faithful follower. She went everywhere he went. She shouted their praises in public and event pronounced that they knew the way of salvation. Yet, she annoyed and tired the Apostle Paul! To those who were in the streets - the onlookers and the public audience - she probably appeared to be an excited follower and a faithful steward. Yet, Paul recognized a spirit and cast it out from her.

God said that if the leaders are tired, there are still some slaves carrying spirits that must be cast out. These spirits are being revealed to the leaders, though others may not even recognize. Some of those who carry the most admiration on their lips for one leader are still slaves to another. Yet, a threshingfloor experience must take place. God is warning, though, that the leaders should be prepared. Those who were benefiting from the spirit of divination and control will be upset when it is called out.

Notice one other thing - the one that called the leader to be tired was the loud one - the one always singing the praises. The one causing rest was the one who was in obscurity. Silence is not always an indication of laziness, and loud personal praises are not always an indication of work or loyalty.

I am searching my heart on today and truly laying out before God, and He is even showing me some things about me. My desire is to be like Lydia - to be a servant that allows my leaders to rest, knowing that GOD has spoken highly of me, and that they have heard. God has given me a ministry and plenty of direction to go along with it, but it's very easy to lose focus of the fact that what He has given me is only a part of what He has given the leaders to which I am submitted.

I want to encourage the leaders and the followers who have ministries as well. It is possible to achieve balance and God's perfect will. We must understand that God's assignments are oftentimes dimentional. Submission is key. Is your leader tired? If so, where is your level of accountability? Has God spoken to your leader about your ministry, or are you singing your own praises and plans to those who have rule over you?

I believe in many facets of ministry, but I also believe in accountability. I am crazy enough to believe that when a person is submitted to the right leaders, and in their rightful places, God will reveal to those leaders some glimpse of the individual's assignment, that they may all work the vision in unity. In that case, no one should feel alone - not the leader nor the follower. Fatique may come, but it should not be due to those on the battlefield together. These things ought not be so!

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