There is a huge difference. As I look at the scriptures, I see many successful people, but only a few experiencing fulfillment. As I look at life and people, I see successful people, but not many fulfilled people. As I look at our congregation, I see successful people, but not many fulfilled people. As I look at my own life, I see a very successful man, but not a fulfilled man.
SUCCESSFUL vs FULFILLMENT
By Pastor Delbert Young
Solomon had great success. He built a most magnificent temple. He expanded the borders of Israel to their largest places, exceeding what his father David accomplished. He had more wealth than Bill Gates. Yet, fulfillment eluded him. Money did not fulfill Solomon. Women did not fulfill him. All he accomplished did not fulfill him. What does it take?
Successful vs. Fulfillment
Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 2:11, Genesis 28:15, Luke 2:26, Luke 2:29-30, Exodus 3:17, Numbers 14:21-24, Deuteronomy 34:4-5, Genesis 15:9, Romans 12:1, Romans 12:2, Genesis 28:12, Acts 9:3-6, Ephesians 4:11-12, Ecclesiastes 12:13\
I want to talk today about SUCCESS vs. FULFILLMENT. There is a huge difference. As I look at the scriptures, I see many successful people, but only a few fulfilled people. As I look at life and people, I see successful people, but not many fulfilled people. As I look at our congregation, I see successful people, but not many fulfilled people. As I look at my own life, I see a very successful man, but not a fulfilled man. The writer of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, wiser than all men (1Ki 4:31), obviously experienced what I am attempting to address today.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a CHASING AFTER THE WIND; nothing was gained under the sun.
Solomon had great success. He built a most magnificent temple for the Lord. He expanded the borders of Israel to their largest places, exceeding what his father David had accomplished. He had more wealth than Bill Gates. Yet, fulfillment eluded him. Money did not fulfill Solomon (1Ki 10:27). Women did not fulfill him (1Ki 11:3). All he accomplished did not fulfill him. He achieved great things, but was he fulfilled? Obviously not. How about you? Are you fulfilled in life?
I was meditating on the thought of SUCCESS vs. FULFILLMENT and believe that I am one of the most successful, if not the most successful, pastors in our area. I am successful not only in endurance, but also successful in beginning, building, and leading a valid ministry. There is no church in our area that offers a better Sunday program than we offer. I believe I am a successful teacher of God’s word. I am successful, but I am not fulfilled. I have achieved much, but sometimes feel like I am CHASING AFTER THE WIND(FULFILLMENT). Do you feel that areas of your life are successful, but feel unfulfilled? Do you feel sometimes like you are CHASING AFTER THE WIND?
I found this quote by a woman named Jane Wagner. She said this: “A sobering thought: what if, at this very moment, I am living up to my full potential?” How horrible that would be! I do not feel that way. I feel I have the potential to do more than I am accomplishing. How sad it would be to me if this was it and “I am living up to my full potential” now. The Lord wants us successful, but also fulfilled.
WE TALK A LOT ABOUT BEING SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE, BUT WHAT BRINGS FULFILLMENT IN LIFE? From where does fulfillment come? I began thinking about Bible characters and fulfillment. Jacob’s life is an interesting life to study concerning SUCCESS vs. FULFILLMENT. Jacob, like you and me, constantly reached and grabbed for fulfillment. He was a twin to Esau and the last to come from Rebekah’s womb. At birth, Jacob grabbed Esau’s heel (Gen 25:26). He later grabbed Esau’s birthright (Gen 25:31). Next he grabbed the blessing (Gen 27:27) from his father Isaac. Jacob left home and went on an adventure looking for fulfillment. He grabbed Leah and Rachel to be his wives. Then he grabbed Laban’s wealth (Gen 31:9). Then he grabbed his angel and held him all night, wrestling until the angel blessed him (Gen 32:24). Jacob constantly reached and grabbed attempting to grab fulfillment, but it was LIKE CHASING AFTER THE WIND.
Nothing gave Jacob fulfillment until a specific event took place. It was when he returned to the land he left, then Jacob’s grabbing stopped and he experienced fulfillment. What happened? Why did that give him fulfillment? IT WAS BECAUSE THE PROMISE OF GOD FOR HIS LIFE BECAME REALITY. Do you remember the story about Jacob’s ladder? Jacob dreamed and saw a ladder (Gen 28:12) going to heaven and angels ascending and descending. There God gave Jacob a personal promise.
(NLT) Genesis 28:15 What’s more, I will be with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. I WILL SOMEDAY BRING YOU SAFELY BACK TO THIS LAND. I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you EVERYTHING I HAVE PROMISED.”
Jacob would spend his life grabbing until the Lord brought him back to the land, or until the promise became reality. Jacob experienced fulfillment when he experienced the promise God gave him. I saw that fulfillment came to Jacob when his personal promise from God became reality.
I began to look at other Bible characters to see if I could find this same truth in the lives of others. I can find no person ever fulfilled unless the personal promise of God, given him or her, became reality. It was not until Abraham experienced his promise of Isaac that Abraham experienced fulfillment. Abraham did a lot of CHASING THE WIND with Hagar and Ishmael and Pharaoh, Lot, Abimelech, etc, but nothing brought Abraham fulfillment until the promise of God became reality.
There is a story in the Bible about an old prophet named Simeon who was waiting on the “consolation of Israel” (Luk 2:25). Here is his personal promise.
Luke 2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
At the temple one day, Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus and presented him to the Lord. Simeon took the infant Jesus into his arms and praised God.
Luke 2:29-30 “Sovereign Lord, as you have PROMISED, you now dismiss your servant in PEACE. For my eyes have seen your salvation…”
Simeon experienced fulfillment. He could now die fulfilled. The Lord kept his promise and the promise was now reality. When your promises from God become reality in your life, you will experience fulfillment. Until then, you will only be grabbing like Jacob and CHASING THE WINDlike Solomon.
CAN ANYTHING STOP A GOD-GIVEN PERSONAL PROMISE FROM BECOMING FULFILLMENT? Can God give a personal promise to a person and the promise not happen? Oh yes. There are at least three things that will stop our fulfillment in life. We need to know these.
Moses and the children of Israel had the promise of God, but their promise did not happen for them. The Lord promised, not once, not twice, and not three times. No less than 5 times does the Bible say the Lord promised Moses and those people that he would give them their personal promise (Exo 3:17; 12:25; 13:11; 32:13; 33:1).
Exodus 3:17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – a land flowing with milk and honey.’
As you know, out of the millions the Lord gave that promise, only two families went into that land – Joshua and Caleb. Here is what the Lord said.
Numbers 14:21-24 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, NOT ONE of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but WHO DISOBEYED ME AND TESTED METEN TIMES – NOT ONE of them will ever see the land I PROMISED on oath to their forefathers. NO ONE who has TREATED ME WITH CONTEMPT will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
Joshua and his family also went in (Num 32:12). What happened? What stopped the promise that would bring fulfillment? The Lord said they TREATED ME WITH CONTEMPT. They saw God’s glory andmiraculous signs. Yet, they were never grateful. They watched as the Lord defeated the greatest military power of the day. They watched God deliver the entire nation from bondage to freedom, witnessed the Red Sea parting, and experienced daily blessings of everything they needed, but because they did not appreciate what God did for them, murmured, complained, disobeyed, and rebelled, they never found fulfillment. They spent the remainder of their days grabbing some manna and CHASING THE WIND in the wilderness of life.
I watch this all the time. I watch people delivered by the Lord and blessed. I watch the Lord bless them in all sorts of ways, only to see them do what the children of Israel did. They TREAT THE LORD WITH CONTEMPT. So, they spend their lives grabbing manna in the wilderness and CHASING THE WIND, never experiencing fulfillment.
Moses allowed something to stop his fulfillment. Moses seemed daily to be able to communicate on a personal level with God. He received the commandments and the law of God. Moses had a most unique relationship with God, yet Moses allowed his bitterness toward people to cause him to never experience fulfillment. Moses stored up bitterness toward people and though uniquely close to the Lord, that bitterness stopped his fulfillment. He was so close. He could see it, but never experienced it.
Deuteronomy 34:4-5 Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I PROMISED on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.
Moses did wonderful things, but died unfulfilled on a mountain all alone. Bitterness, resentment, and anger will stop us from experiencing fulfillment.
The third thing that will stop fulfillment is dreaming too small. Jesus promised Judas Iscariot a throne from which he would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat 19:28), but Judas became dissatisfied with Jesus and allowed his small goals for life – 30 pieces of silver – to stop his fulfillment. Judas, at best, wanted to take over the Roman Empire. Jesus wanted to take over the world. Small goals might bring success, but never bring fulfillment. Judas did not dream big enough.
“This is strange but true: when you give yourself to small visions and limited dreams, you become frustrated and disappointed. It is only when you give yourself to magnificent visions and great dreams that fulfillment comes! That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? Give yourself to something little, and, even if you achieve it, you will end up feeling dissatisfied. But give yourself to something magnificent, and, even if you cannot accomplish it, you will feel fulfilled! …Dissatisfaction comes when we give ourselves to small dreams… and when we are dissatisfied, we lash out in anger and in frustration. We betray the Lord.”
Remember that Judas was so unfulfilled that he went and hanged himself. Many of you younger folk and a few music loving older folk know who Kurt Cobain was. He was a Rock Star. Cobain was the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, and front man for the rock band, Nivana. He experienced tremendous success and stardom. Then on April 5, 1994, Cobain wrote a suicide note, put a shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger. He spent his life CHASING THE WIND. Successful? Oh yes! Fulfilled? Obviously not. Why? His dream was not big enough. It did not include the Lord. He never found his personal promise.
Have you found your personal promise from God? If not, then you are only grabbing manna through life and CHASING THE WIND. Sadly, I believe that most Christ followers could not tell you their personal promise from God. Do you know your own personal promise from God? How does a person know their very own personal promise? There are many ways this can happen. Abraham offered a sacrifice (Gen 15:9-21).
Genesis 15:9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
This sacrifice was specifically to get the personal promise from God. Of course, the Lord does not want us sacrificing animals. He expects much more.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to OFFER YOUR BODIES AS LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
If you will give the Lord a sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of your time, a sacrifice of your finances, etc, I promise you will hear from the Lord just as Abraham heard. The next verse says…
Romans 12:2 …that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Jacob received his personal promise in a dream/vision.
Genesis 28:12 HE HAD A DREAM in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Do not discount the power of your dreams! Sometimes the Lord has to catch us quiet and still to speak to us. Read God’s Word before you go to sleep. Pray before you sleep and ask God what his personal promise is for you.
The apostle Paul had a personal encounter with the Lord and then received instructions through a man named Ananias.
Acts 9:3-6 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul… Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Watch for your encounter. We need others also to help clarify our personal promise. Paul, though face to face with the Lord, needed Ananias.
Daniel would hear from the Lord through prayer and fasting. I have done a lot of fasting. I was seeking the Lord and his personal promise for my life. I encourage you to get that serious with the Lord. It is a great way to spend time with him.
A special way to hear your personal promise is through a personal prophecy.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, PROPHETS; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Prophets are still for today, especially for the purpose of perfecting the saints. You remember King David as a young boy. Samuel, the prophet went to him and in a few minutes, set the course for the rest of David’s life. David died a fulfilled man. We want to help you find and know your personal promise for your life from God. Before long, we will have a time of coming together, after seeking the Lord, to help you find your personal promise.
I began this lesson with a verse from Ecclesiastes about how life can seem to be nothing more thanCHASING AFTER THE WIND. Solomon came to the same conclusion we come to.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.
Find what God says for you to do and do it. Obey it. That, and only that, will bring fulfillment.
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