Monday, February 21, 2011

The Voice Of Influence

People die. Their influence doesn’t.

Cain ruthlessly murdered his brother Able and buried him to silence his lips and erase any memory of him, but he couldn’t do it. The Bible says, “He (Able) being dead yet speaketh.” Cain couldn’t dig a grave deep enough and wide enough to snuff out his influence once and forever. You can embalm a body and carry it away in a hearse but not influence. Influence is what we leave behind.

The temperature was like an oven in Kansas City, but a bus driver had to endure the “sauna storm” and deliver his passengers. On one of his routes, a young woman suddenly lost her cool about something to her disliking and let loose with a string of unforgettable, not to mention, unrepeatable words. A few minutes later, the woman started to get off the bus. As she stepped out of the bus, the driver calmly said, “Madam, I believe you are leaving something behind.” Quickly she snapped, “Oh, and what is that?” “A very bad impression,” replied the driver.

We are all leaving something behind. It’s called influence. It can be bad or good, and we must remember that it can not be turned on and off at will. It sticks with us like our shadow going everywhere we go.

It is likely that we have prayed about tons of things, but very little about the influence that we are having upon others daily. Could it be we fail to realize the powerful impact that it has upon people around us day after day? My influence impacts my children long before they grab their lunch box and scurry off to school. It paves the way for my wife’s “rest of the day” before she finishes her first cup of coffee.

Consider this. You have the power at your disposal to change the frame of mind of those around you in an instant. I’m not referring to your closest buddies. I’m talking about people you do not know and may never see again. You can put a stamp of your influence upon them without costing you one cent. Just smile. That’s it. It can transfer your kindness to the heart of another, and chances are they will smile back also.

The Bible declares, “Yeast is a small thing but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast.” (The Message - I Corinthians 5:6) Anyone can understand that. Just a small amount of yeast will affect all other ingredients that are in the bowl with it. One glowing smile, one simple pat on the back, one tiny affirmation of acceptance, one word of approval and an upside down day will suddenly be right side up…in the office, at home, at church…it never stops.

That’s a good reason to pray about our influence so that God will help us to exude a positive influence upon those we touch today. This is a good prayer to pray daily.

“Dear Lord, help each person I influence today to be…Stronger for the strength I bring, Sweeter for the songs I sing, Happier for the path I tread, Lighter for the light I shed, Richer for the gifts I give, Purer for the life I live….I pray in Jesus name.”.

Roy Croft had fantastic insight into the power of influence when he wrote:

“I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.” This was the positive impact that the influence of Mordecai had upon Esther. It’s a beautiful story you can follow in Esther chapter 4. For the sake of brevity, I will point out 4 things the voice of Mordecai’s influence did for Esther.

Number 1, his influence helped her to by-pass the pit falls of bad decisions.

(Esther 4:13 – “Think not…that you shall escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if you hold your peace….”)

At first, it sounds so simple and meaningless or mere chit chat, but it was in fact a life changing piece of dialogue. She was capable of making a split moment decision that would change her life forever. He influenced her to think differently.

He understood that little decisions make big differences in our lives. What you decide today will determine your destiny tomorrow. A slight nudge of influence from her friend, gave her the courage to make the right decision.

Number 2, his influence challenged her to think big.

(Esther 4:14 – “who knows whether that you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”)

Esther was not vying for the crown at the Boondocks County Fair. The stakes were high and the rewards enormous. Being a housekeeper or hair dresser in the king’s palace would be a great honor, but she was in inches of being crowned queen. She was aiming to low and willing to settle for far less than God had in store for her. Mordecai’s voice of influence challenged her to shoot for the stars. Don’t settle for penury. Set your sights on plenty. Far too often we are willing to settle for bride’s maid, but God wants us to be a queen. I believe God wants you to be a lender not a borrower; a warrior not a weak whippersnapper; gem not a gaffe; and a dignitary not a donut hole. May the voices of influence inspire you to think big and realize that you can never put a strain on God’s ability….He can do more than we ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20)

Number 3: his influence moved her to block out negativism.

(Esther 4:16 – “I will go in unto the king which is not according to the law…”)

The law of the land was restrictive and set limits to Esther’s possibility to go any higher up the ladder of success. She was competing with the countries finest, and she didn’t have the notoriety that many others had. But her uncle urged her to shoot for the stars. Don’t settle for second best. The question is not why but why not? I challenge you to dig deeper, dream bigger and defy the critics. A Positive God can cancel out negative thinking.

Number 4: his influence inspired her to be bold.

(Esther 4: 16 – “if I perish, I perish.”

Mordecai didn’t ignore the risks that were involved for him and Esther and his influence bolstered her courage. She was daring in danger, bold in calling Haman’s bluff and fearless when flanked by foe. She was not timid. Timidity is like a tramp bellying up to the bar at closing time hoping for a handout and often getting none. Boldness on the other hand is assertiveness in action and demands that will not be denied. Orison Swett Marden attempted to bring out the value of boldness in each of us when he wrote, “Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” God said it in these words: “Let us come BOLDLY to the throne of grace….that we may…find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Perhaps we could look at it like this. The bigger our need the bolder our approach to God. I encourage you to come boldly to God now.

Influencing Our Generation,

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Voice of FAITH

Doubt has a big mouth and dares speak with or without permission. It pours water on the fire of faith, denounces the dependability of God and questions the sanity of believers.

Doubters are usually surrounded by many friends and supporters, but believers often find themselves standing alone. Elijah stood alone on Carmel, but his voice of faith rose above the roar of disbelief and defiance and commanded a fire ball to fall down upon the altar from heaven. He practiced the essence of an old Chinese proverb which suggested that it is “better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” The candle he used was the voice of faith challenging doubt and celebrating confidence in God. The doubters could not silence him.

Faith must speak. The word of faith must be in our mouth. It is this voice of faith that acts on the command of Isaiah 35:3-4. “Strengthen you the weak hands, and make firm the tottering knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not.”

We call it encouragement. Zig Ziglar taught his students to remember: “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” Cavett Robert reminded us of something that is difficult to accept but perhaps true. “Three billion people on the face of the earth go to bed hungry every night, but four billion people go to bed every night hungry for a simple word of encouragement and recognition.”

We need not only staying power but saying power. Jesus said it like this in Mark 11:23. “Whosoever shall SAY unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he SAITH shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he SAITH.”

Speak with the voice of faith to mountains of colossus blunders, enormous guilt, staggering bad decisions, huge emotional meltdowns and immense family problems. Name your mountain, and speak to it with the voice of faith and demand it be moved in Jesus name.

In the Book of Romans, we are told that the word of faith “is as near as the tongue in your mouth and as close as the heart in your chest.” It is this “word of faith” that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. When you release the voice of faith, you are releasing God to move mountains and maneuver all the resources of heaven to come to your defense.

The effectiveness of the voice of faith is painted so clearly in I Kings 17. Follow the process carefully.

The voice of faith must be based on word of or from God.

(I Kings 17:8 – (“And the word of the Lord came unto him…”)

He acted upon good advice. God said it. He believed it and acted and spoke accordingly. Faith is not a gut feeling or imagination running out of control. It is based upon fact. Not scientific calculations and equations but upon the fact that God is; He can not lie; He will not mislead; and He will not change His mind. God is a guardian of truth, a faithful witness, a peerless leader, a merciful high priest and the Mighty God. If God said it, He will do it and you can shout it from the housetop.

The voice of faith must be accompanied by action.

(I Kings 17:10 – (“So he arose and went….”)

If you hear from God and see it in His Word, you can afford to act on it as if has already happened. Act on the Word. What we truly believe will be mirrored by what we do. Noah believed a flood was coming and built an ark. Sarah believed that a 90 year of lady could have a baby and made some baby clothes. Thomas Huxley made this astute observation. “The great end of life is not knowledge, but action.” The voice of faith should always be followed by affirmative action. Don’t just sit there. Do something.

The voice of faith must not be dissuaded or discouraged by prevailing circumstances.

(I Kings 17:12 – (“And she said…I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel….I go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”)

Circumstances are not always our biggest rival or enemy. They are opportunities for God to “shine”. We pick and choose who might have a chance to make things happen, but God doesn’t. He sees through the circumstance, and sees a dire need not a difficult circumstance. Elijah’s confidence didn’t bend or break, and he wasn’t dissuaded or discouraged. The voice of faith recognizes what God can do regardless of the circumstance and speaks as if the situation is a piece of cake to God. He didn’t see a last meal but a limitless miracle in the making. Abraham Lincoln declared, “Behind the clouds the sun is shining.” Don’t be discouraged by the darkness. It is almost sunrise. Tough times will pass away. A new day is about to dawn. Say it by faith and receive it with joy.

The voices of faith confesses that they are putting all their eggs in God’s basket and begins to count their blessings before they hatch.

(I Kings 17:14 – (“For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”)

This is a two way test. The woman’s faith was being sorely tested, and God’s faithfulness was being tested as well. Thank God both of them passed the test with flying colors. The destitute single mom put all of her eggs in God’s basket. She didn’t spread her risk. She sunk it all in God. Either God would come through or she and her son would be pushing up daisies in the potter’s field shortly. It was do or die, and she decided to act upon the word of faith spoken by Elijah. She counted on God, and God did not let her down. The Bible tells us that God’s provision for her did not fail. It’s OK to put God to the test. He’s good at passing.

Speaking Faith,

Pastor Jimmy & Bob