Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Power Of Influence

    Within the past couple of weeks there was a time I was so consumed with a situation that has taken me a bit of time, understanding and yes even sympathy from my parents to overcome. Nothing huge, just a inner struggle that I couldn't shake. I am SO thankful for both my parents, but especially my Dad. He took time from his already super busy Pastor schedule to just spend some time with me. Sometimes just a hug and Him telling me, "I don't have all the answers, but I know Who does." and Whatever you want I'll get it or do for you." (What girl doesn't enjoy that!;) ) Just letting me ride with him as he did an errand with a little 'sweet treat' along the way....sometimes sweets can help mend things too! Other times just someone knowing, caring and understanding what you're feeling and thinking can make a world of difference! Without my parents I no doubt would still be struggling; God put me in the PERFECT family!
   Anyways through some of this time the Lord placed something on my heart, that I kind of shoved aside, just not 'feeling' like doing anything with it. 'Feelings' shouldn't be followed when the Lord directs, but the Lord has much work to do on me yet. So tonight He brought it to my attention as I was praying and just couldn't get to sleep until I finished. So here I am!:) Just 2 simple words He placed on my heart, but still SO powerful: Influence and Influenced. These 2 words hold the outcome to so many of lifes situations: encouragement, joy, happiness, gratefulness, peace, love, hate, anger, bitterness, heartache, discouragement, rebellion, backsliding and so many more! My Dad always told us, and still tells us before we go somewhere: "Be the influence, not the influenced!" Such a small phrase, but yet so key to the outcome of good or bad. In every situation that we find ourselves, we are either the influence or we are being influenced by others around us or things we are seeing or listening to. The only difference between these 2 words other than the tense, is the word "D". This letter in my mind stands for Direct. Direct - to aim something or someone in a particular direction. You cannot be neutral, you are either being directed or directing others. This may seem like such a tiny matter, but can lead to a life full of the blessings and sweet fellowship with the Lord, or a catastrophic sin filled life. Looking at both words we can see the good and the bad with each:

   Influence - the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something. This definition made me think of a little child. I'm not a Mom so the closest I can get is the kids I work with on a regular basis whether on the bus, nursery or my 3-6 yr old Sunday School Class. This made me realize more than ever that each time I am with them I am either helping to build their character or to destroy it. I have such a tiny part in how the outcome of their lives. How much more does a Mother or Father have in the life of their child! With each decision made in the childs life they are either strengthening them for the Lord, or pushing them away from the Lord.
   As I have said before, each day we are influencing someone for good or bad. If you think back over today or yesterday. Who have you encouraged? Who have you brought closer to the Lord? Who have you pushed away from the Lord? There are so many questions we can and should ask ourselves. Each decision you make affects those around you. It may be just 1, or 5, or maybe even 10 people with that one either good or bad decision! Be very careful what you influence others to do. That may become the very thing that leads those close to you either away from the Lord or closer to Him. If you are responsible for leading them away, you will one day have to answer for that. When someone leaves your presence are they better than when they entered your presence? 1 Cor 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Are you allowing yourself to be a tool in the devil's hand? 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" Each choice we make influences someone. That choice may seem so tiny, when in reality that may have been the very thing the Devil needed to destroy that person you influenced.
   On the other side, when you are in the Word of God spending time with Him daily, and have the 'mind of Christ'. You may be the very one who influences that person to make the right decision. I pray this is you!

   Who are you being influenced by to make decisions? Is it those who are just like you? Or someone who you know is more spiritual than you? Are they people you know will only give you the answer you want to hear, instead of what is right? We are influenced by so may things each day: television, radio, computer, people and the list goes on and on! You choose who to be influenced by. The company you keep is usually who you become like. It doesn't take long for people to start spending time together, before they think, act and sometimes even dress alike! Be so careful what you allow yourself to get talked into. That 'sure decision' may very well be the loose rock that sends you crashing down into the lions den! Who are you allowing to hinder you? Galatians 5:7 "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? We all know this next verse very well. Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." The one who should be helping or influencing you is the one who is going to sharpen you for the Lord, not someone who is going to allow you to stay the same or even become dull and unusable for the Lord.
   Pick those who you can see fruit of a walk with God as your 'friend'. Fill your time being influenced by those things that will make you grow in the Lord, and edify Him! Listen to good God honoring music, memorize scripture that will help you in this area and spend time with the GREATEST Influence - our heavenly Father! Sometimes in my own life I just need to spend time with someone I know is more spiritual than me, it just gives me more of a desire to know the Lord and not to allow the flesh that is always battling for control win. I truly need that friend who will sharpen me! When I was struggling my parents were the best influence I could have had. They sharpened me, but also showed me the great compassion that my Lord also offers to me!


I think sometimes we all need to do some investigating and cleaning out in our lives, to see just who is being allowed to influence our lives, there should really only be a few. The majority of those around us should not qualify for important decisions. Then also, who are we influencing for good? It gets so easy to go through the motions of the Christian life never realizing that each move we make, and decision we make is affecting someone else. You don't have to be a teacher, pastor, or someone in a place of service to influence someone. EVERYONE no matter who you are, YOU are influencing someone either for good or bad!    

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In His Strength Greatly Rejoicing

Psalms 28:7 "The Lord is my strength and my shield: my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him." If you read my blogs you know they are usually about one of the many things the Lord is teaching me everyday.....and this one is no different. I am thankful the Lord is teaching  me. When He stops and we become 'unteachable' I think that's when we ALL need to worry!
  A funny thing happened to me that kind of helped to teach me some things, and has stayed in my mind for a while! In our house we have a sunk in living room, so our living room is a step lower than the rest of the house. Anyways, last night I was going up the step and my brother was already standing there talking to me, well when I stepped I didn't get my foot all the way on the step before I picked the other one up; and as I'm clumsy I lost my balance and started to fall backwards. I grabbed my brothers arm (who is 9 years younger) with one hand, he thought I was just playing and so started to come down the step. When he realized I wasn't joking, he said matter of factly Oh NO, put his foot down and with his strength pulled me back up. I was a little surprised because he has always been smaller, as he's 9 years younger, but is now taller and stronger than I am. Now I wouldn't have most likely seriously hurt myself, but I still would've had some nice bruises since we have tile floor.
   I have thought about that so many times, and the Lord seemed to remind me through that little episode, I am your strength I want to be your strength; but can only be if you choose to let Me! As seems to be around me lately, the Lord has seem fit to bring into my life very recently something that has caused great sadness and I can't do anything to change it. I went through a couple days of sadness, but realized I can't live this way and do what I need to do! Then I was reminded, as my brother only used his strength when he knew I needed it; in the same way our Heavenly Father desires to show His strength through us - especially in times of sadness or disappointments! Sometimes the situations we are in, show no signs of getting better, and all we can simply do is go through them. As the Bible says there is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 10,11 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.:" "I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."
   The 'season' that God has placed before me doesn't look like it is going to end very well, but I know I need to decide now how I will handle it when it comes. I have been praying and asking the Lord to direct my steps and especially my emotions. Resting in His strength alone is the only way to handle this or really any problem we face! As the verse says in the beginning, when the Lord is our strength and shield, our heart doesn't just simply rejoice but GREATLY rejoices, with song or with our words we will praise Him! How sweet it is to rest in the Lord!
   On the news yesterday it said that January 6th was the most depressing day of the year! I kind of thought that was funny, and told my parents that yesterday was the worse this year would ever be! Although in reality for the Christian who doesn't rest in the Lord's strength daily, everyday of the year is depressing. We certainly cannot live this life on our own! I have recently seen quite a few Christian families go through some really tough times, and have been simply amazed at their attitudes through it all. I know they have already discovered their source of strength - the Lord!


   Although my heart may be breaking and maybe yours is too, let's decide to trust the One Who is the strongest! Remember it is a choice you must make, and the demonstration of that choice that you are resting in His strength is a heart that is greatly rejoicing and praising Him. Knowing that God is ALWAYS good!!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Martha's Most Needful Thing

   Most of us have either heard sermons about, or read for ourselves the story about Martha, Mary and Lazarus in the Bible. Usually Martha is seen as the "bad" sister or the one who didn't care to sit at Jesus' feet. As I did a study on her life, it seems to me, that this one area the Lord was trying to warn her about rather than labeling her unusable! After reading about Martha in my book, I also looked into scripture and studied Martha's character - what a precious lady Martha was!
  From what we see in the Bible, we are not given much insight as to Martha's parents, obviously it was not needful for us to know. It seems the home that Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived in was owned by Martha. She was the oldest of the three, and so carried the responsibility of the household affairs. One of the neat things the book brought alive to me is after Jesus left His home and started His public ministry, it was not back to the home He had lived in growing up, but to Martha's house that He went. Jesus loved the three who lived in this house, and this place meant much to Jesus. The first time we see Martha the Bible says she "received Jesus into her house" A chapter earlier we see the Lord say "The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" but the next day "He came to Bethany....and Martha made Him a supper." He knew in the town of Bethany there was a home that was always ready to welcome Him. To cater to Him in His weariness and exhaustion, He was refreshed in the home. To Martha her home responsibilities were not a drudgery. She was so diligent about her housework, it would seem she never had to rush around to straighten up for company to come.
   The story tells us that Martha was up busy serving, while Mary sat at Jesus' feet. Martha was irritated that she was up busy serving, while Mary was able to sit at the feet of the Master. Once she voiced this complaint to the Lord, He reproved her in Luke 10:41-42 "Martha, Martha, Thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." A few verses earlier Luke tells us "Martha was cumbered about much serving." Cumbered means to be distracted, she was so busy she was distracted from what was most needful. The Lord warns us in 1 Cor 7:35 to "attend upon the Lord without distraction."
   As being head of the household Martha was torn between her responsibilities and sitting at the feet of Jesus. She felt it was more important to serve Jesus, than to be served by Him at that time! When Jesus reproved her for her complaint, He reminded her that she was allowing her outward activities to hinder her spiritually. Her emphasis had been placed on the wrong act. The word careful in Jesus' rebuke means, inward worrying anxiety. She was mentally divided in her mind, which the Lord warns us about also in 1 Cor 7:32 "But I would have you without carefulness." Everything has it's proper place, and one isn't to distract from the other. One of the comments I saw from the book that I really liked is,  'Much serving has its right place and time, but ought to give place to hearing when Jesus speaks.' This is so true, our service should never substitute or hinder our walk with God. Sitting at the Masters feet every morning is the most important thing I will do every day. This helps me to better perform each task to His glory!
   Later in the story, when Lazarus is sick and then dies; Jesus is sent for. We notice that not Mary but Martha was the first one to run out to Jesus. I don't believe this one story of Martha complaining about her sister is indicative of Martha's complete character, she had a love for her Lord that developed as she sat at His feet learning of Him; and yes, even serving Him. In John 11 when Jesus is told of Lazarus the Bible says, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus. It mentions by name Martha and Lazarus, but not Mary. As said before He loved each one of these siblings, they were each so different, but He loved them each. After her rebuke from the Lord the service of Martha was the same, her spirit was changed though. She was no longer "distracted" over her tasks, or mentally anxious, but calm, and in full agreement with her sister's act of love and devotion to the Master. At last Martha, too, chose that good part which could not be taken from her.

*** I have learned in my study of Martha:
 First - She absolutely loved her Lord, but for a time had got her focus off of what was most needful for her. She is not someone to be scoffed at for her mistake, but rather to be admired for her diligence and love to her Lord. I dare say we often get our focus off of the most needful thing to something that won't matter at all in light of eternity. As Herbert Lockyer says, "Some people are all Martha, and no Mary. Others are all Mary and no Martha. The happy combination is that of Martha and Mary the practical and the spiritual making possible the glory of the commonplace." The church needs both the Mary's and the Martha's to complete the needs of the church. Secondly - It is so important to keep serving in it's proper place, both are duties learning and serving, but in both areas we should honor God. Thirdly -  To trust the Lord with our cares, responsibilities and sorrows knowing He can surely undertake for us. Though Martha didn't understand why the Lord had allowed her brother to die, the Lord had and always has a plan that we are not to know, but only trust!