Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day Nineteen: Using Your Influence

Before You Begin:  Read Acts 13:42-52
            In Pisidian Antioch
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored of the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Stop to Consider: But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
Questions Asked of Me: Who are some of the people that have the greatest influence on you? How have they earned the right to speak into your life? What qualifies them to be respected and reliable?
My parents, my husband Robbe, my best friend Lynnette, my church leaders, and my friends that Jesus has given to me. They have earned the right to speak into my life because they ALL have three things in common; 1) They love Jesus and have a personal relationship with him. 2) They know where I came from and love me anyway. 3) They want what is best for me and know that Jesus is the only way to get it. If I need help in seeing that purpose….they are always there to point it out.
Respected and reliable are two things I never was but two things I always expected from other people; even before becoming a Christian nearly two years ago. Without knowing…Jesus has shown me that respectability and reliability are two things that go together; if you have one…you more than likely have the other.
I never respected my parents opinion but now I thirst for it. They have been THE most reliable thing to me throughout my life, even when I didn’t know it….just like Jesus being along for the ride without my knowing He was there. Robbe has earned my respect because of all that he has been there for. He didn’t run or take the easy way out no matter how many times I tried to show him the way to the door when things got tough. He has been the definition of reliable and the rock that was needed to see me through to Nineveh. Lynnette is not only respected by me but by everyone around her. She is the epitome of reliability because she always puts others before herself. Lynnette is another’s support that did not waver no matter how many opportunities or tantrums I through her way. My church leaders and friends have my full attention and respect because they have recognized things in me, I did not see for myself and they always came to fruition. I always felt as if I were thrown into the Lion’s Den, they were in the front row smiling … telling me not to worry. You know that no one can harm you; surrounded by Jesus. These friendships given to me never seemed probable or even possible but when you think about the one common denominator being Jesus; they seem completely expected. I know and respect ALL of them because they were just one of the many gifts given to me by Him.
Are there others who have an influence on you for less than godly purposes? How great is their impact? Have you ever found yourself wondering if they’re right and you’re wrong?
I am happy to say that there are no others that have influences on me for negative purposes. Two years ago that would not have been the case….oh what a difference a change of playgrounds can make. I used to think that I was the one impacting their lives for “evil” and I was, but…. it was a two-way street. Everyone I associated with before Jesus didn’t have a relationship with Him. They were just as happy as I was to make bad decision after bad decision, dressing it up as being completely normal and expected…sometimes even fun. Robbe was the turning point from that playground to the next. He was a complete surprise that rescued me in a Starbucks. A guy that was not familiar with Jesus either but saw something in me that needed rescuing and wanted to do it. My husband has a giving heart and started showing me what was possible if I just grew up. Finding Jesus and beginning our relationships with Him just a week apart; only made our relationship stronger. Only Jesus could have done that.
Detour: It is no surprise that our service today in church was about influence. We had a guest pastor and he was one I was excited to hear. Why? Because his mom and I talked before the service. Another chance meeting? No, of course not. If Jesus can do all that He does; how much stronger do you think that gets in His own house? Yeah.
It was not glamorous the way we met. She nearly slipped by our row while making her way to her front row seat. “Yeah, real subtle Jesus.” We chatted about our names and we joked about her son being the speaker and I told her that I would cheer and clap as loud as I could from my fifth row, center seat.
But I digress.
The story was about the Biggest Loser and appetites; not just appetites for food but things we hunger for; sex, love, money, power, success, etc. He went back to the book of Genesis to make his point; relating to the story of Jacob and Esau. He told of the importance of birthright and what it meant….it was everything. To be the firstborn brought huge benefits: double the portion of a family’s inheritance, getting to be the judge for the family in decision making, and a sense of blessing/leadership/status just to name a few.
Even though Jacob and Esau were twins; Esau was born first so he was older – with that, getting the place of birthright. Older brothers are always the one of influence to a younger brother; following in their footsteps, leading by example of what to do….or what not to do as was the case for me, since I was the oldest of three girls.
In this story Jacob was able to influence his brother with a bowl of stew and change the course of history. Esau was so hungry that he sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. He sold all that birthright entailed to satisfy an appetite; in this case a literal appetite but that is not always the case.
I had little influence over my sisters growing up. I got good grades and graduated high school early, went on to college, and then the military. I am sure comparisons were made between my grades and theirs but I didn’t try to help them achieve better in any way. My sisters had little to worry about as I was an adult. I was the “Prodigal Son” that took what I could from my parents and never looked back. They were glad for my lack of influence then I am sure. They didn’t have to worry about hearing “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” because that was something my parents wouldn’t want to see happen to more than one of their daughters I am sure.
I like to think that I had some influence over my children when they were growing up; at least the good parts. I want to take credit for the young women they are today but most of what they have become has been by learning what “not” to do from their mother. I used to think I was making the right decisions for them in the beginning but in thinking more closely, I don’t believe that to be true; even enabling their “appetite” for name brand clothing as early as elementary and middle school.
But now I know that I do influence others and it is for His glory. I am able to influence those that see what Jesus has done in and through me.
Praying God’s Word Today: Lord, help me always to speak what is consistent with sound teaching, being self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. May I be reverent in behavior, not a slanderer, not addicted to much wine, teaching what is good (Titus 2:1-3). My desire to be someone others can trust – in the same measure that I trust in You.
            Titus 2:1-3
You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Dear Jesus:
Please continue to put people in my path that are of good influence. Thank You for giving me good examples to follow and for helping me to see that a change of playground was not only necessary but imperative to the purpose You have for me. Please help me to be of good influence to those around me by what You have done in and through me. I want to be like those You have put in my path. I want to be to someone else what they have been to me.
Help me to be consistent. Help me to be sincere. Help me to influence in the right direction for the right reasons. Remind me that it is okay to have an appetite if I am using that for Your glory; I am hungry for You. I know that I have no idea the plan You have for me…as much as I would like to. But I know that I am hungry to know more of You and the purpose You laid ahead for me.
Thank you for Ryan yesterday, our guest pastor. I am grateful for the message he gave to us and the lesson he left on my heart….
“Hunger for the grace of God that can only be filled by the Spirit.”
Fill me Jesus so that I may be of greater influence on Your behalf for those that are thirsty and still have no idea that You are the only one that can quench that thirst.



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